Gale Holmes Obituary

Gale Howard Holmes
Gale Holmes
Gale Howard Holmes

October 16, 1923 - March 10, 2021
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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On March 10, 2021, our dad Gale Howard Holmes, consummate storyteller and a compassionate, gentle soul, died peacefully at Wesley Acres in Des Moines, Iowa, at the age of 97. He lived independently in his own home in Beaverdale through the end of 2020. Dad and mom (Shirlee Elaine Kutil, the love of his life) shared over 64 years together before her death in 2013. Together they raised two children, Jennifer and Marty. He was born to Vernon and Vilda Holmes on Oct. 16, 1923, and raised on a farm in Collins, Iowa, where he was salutatorian of his graduating class. His intelligence was manifested through the rest of his life.
Dad enlisted in the Army in January 1945, and served with the 32nd Infantry “Red Arrow” Division in the Southwest Pacific during WWII. This included a role in the U.S. military government occupation of Japan immediately after their surrender. Following WWII, he continued in the Army Reserves from 1947-1954. During this time he met and married our mom and received his law degree from Drake University on the GI bill. Dad practiced law in Des Moines for over 30 years. A devoted patriot, he joined the Iowa Air National Guard 132nd Air Defense Wing in 1955 as the JAG officer, and retired in 1968 as Major in the Air Force Reserves.
Dad gave richly of himself in many ways. He was a founding member of Covenant Christian Church in Urbandale, where he remained active most of his life, serving as Board Chair and more. He and Mom led the youth group, taking them camping, canoeing and doing other activities that impacted their lives in a way that’s still remembered. He was a 67-year member of the Acanthus Masonic Lodge #632 and a member of Za-Ga-Zig Shrine. He valued his association with the Beaverdale VFW Post 9127, where he loved sitting at the club bar, chatting with his cronies, sipping a cold one and getting hugs from the “ladies of the round table.” He held a number of leadership roles as Commander of Post 9127 and District Commander for 10 districts in Iowa.
Dad’s stories of his life’s experiences continued to entertain audiences even in his final days. He appreciated people with a good sense of humor and found joy in every family gathering. We laugh when we remember that he always requested “Battle Hymn of the Republic” of the church Christmas carolers. His family and friends appreciated his handyman and deck-building skills as much as he himself appreciated countless good books and big-band music. He learned to fly small airplanes and enjoyed his air time, and he also liked to get in the car with Mom, bound either for Lake of the Ozarks or with no real plans except to explore the U.S. He felt privileged to travel to London and Hawaii to view historical WWII sites.
Our dad was predeceased by our mom, whom he cared for in their home for five years while she battled Alzheimer’s, as well as his parents and his brother and sister-in-law, Lowell and Maxine Holmes. Survivors include his children Jennifer (Joe) Gardner and Martin Holmes; grandchildren Nicholas (Paige) Holmes, Benjamin Holmes and Elizabeth Holmes; great-grandchildren Dominic Holmes and Malachi Brown. Memorial contributions may be made to Beaverdale VFW Post 9127 or Covenant Christian Church. Burial is June 16, 2:00 pm, at Veteran’s Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa. Iles Westover Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Dad’s advice to us always was something he was taught in Army basic training: Watch where you put your feet! He will be remembered for his kindness, wisdom, humor, loyalty, integrity and positivity.
Hours before his death, on a beautiful March afternoon, the notes of a live saxophone reached his window from the courtyard below playing a favorite tune . . . “Sentimental Journey.” Thanks, Dad, for the memories. You will live in us forever.




Iowa Veterans Cemetery
34024 Veterans Memorial Drive
Adel, IA US 50003
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
2:00 PM