Friday, May 7, 2010

J. ERIC HOLMES (1930-2010)

J. ERIC HOLMES (1930-2010)

The April issue of Gridley Wave announced that J. Eric Holmes, the author of the the first D&D "blue box" basic set, has passed away at the age of 80. I subsequently found that the Leber Funeral Home, Union City, NJ. reported Holmes' date of death as March 20, 2010.

Holmes was born February 16, 1930. I was always fascinated by the thought of him being perhaps one of the oldest living dungeon masters. Related to this, in his 1981 book "Fantasy Role Playing Games" he made some very touching statements about how he always liked to have kids playing in his games. Holmes was a neurology professor at USC in his late 40s  when he started DMing in the early days of D&D. He was probably one of the oldest guys at the time to take up this new and strange hobby. Holmes has always been interesting to me because he was a research level biology professor, like myself, yet he made time for RPGs and fantastic fiction in his life. I also appreciate how Holmes came to gaming from the fiction side of the hobby rather than the wargaming side, again, like myself. I believe he saw the potential from RPGs to be an exciting and respectable extension of imaginative literature.

I have tried on several occasions to find Holmes' contact information, meeting only with failure. I was just telling my wife last week how much I would like to track him down for an interview or even to coax him into a game. I know in the last 10 years of his life Holmes was mostly active in Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom, and that he had a stroke in 2004 that limited his activities. I am very sorry I will never be able to speak with or meet the man. Again, the gaming community loses one of its most important elder trailblazers.