Chatham Co. Commissioner, beloved coach James Holmes dies after battle with COVID-19

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham County Commissioner James Holmes died Monday after battling COVID-19. His wife Yvonne Holmes tells News 3 Holmes died at 7:45 Monday morning.

Holmes was hospitalized for COVID-19 on July 30th.

Holmes served as Chatham County Commissioner since 2004 and was extremely well-known for his work with what is now the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club and throughout the community.

Friends and loved ones say Holmes was always smiling and truly had a lifetime of service.

Chairman Al Scott held a press conference Monday in the Commission Chambers to express his condolences. Scott announced that flags at all county facilities will be flown at half-staff starting Tuesday until the day of Holmes’ funeral.

Watch the full press conference above.

(previous article August 4, 2020)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Longtime Chatham County Commissioner James “Coach” Holmes has contracted COVID-19. His wife Yvonne Holmes tells News 3 Holmes has been in the hospital since Thursday.

The commissioner has served the second district since 2004. It’s all a waiting game these days for his wife Yvonne. She’s waited on her husband in their home garden for him to beat COVID-19. It takes the two of them about an hour to water all of their plants. It’s something the married couple of 38 years did together.

Coach Holmes spent 35 years as a program director at the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club and was a basketball coach at Savannah State University. His wife says his biggest accomplishment is being an advocate for Savannah’s youth but now he has to be his own biggest supporter to fight this virus.

“We found out where the source came from that he had come in contact with another family member,” Yvonne told News 3.

Mr. Holmes’ symptoms started with a strong cough and fever that led to a severe case of the hiccups. He was then admitted to Memorial Health’s ICU.

“When they were going to keep him I was like I don’t get to see him anymore and they said no and then it really hit me what people are having to go through,” Holmes said.

Now that friends and family can’t see “Coach” they’re rallying behind each other. He’s too weak to speak on the phone so Memorial Health nurses keep them updated giving them a sigh of relief.

“The nurses have been really supportive of giving me information on how he’s doing and what he’s eating,” Holmes said.

The family visits and hangs out in the backyard like “Coach” would do on a normal day. They’re all now praying for him to come home soon.

“I just felt like the whole community needed to know that what he was going through because the family is praying but we needed the community to pray along with us for him to come out of this,” Holmes said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson himself asking for the community to pray over the commissioner at Tuesday’s press briefing.

“Coach Holmes as I know him is one of our communities elder statesmen and we pray for a speedy recovery,” Johnson said.

Mrs. Holmes is asking everyone to wear mask up to stop the spread of the virus.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re around family or friends or whoever you are around, get used to wearing your mask when you’re out talking to someone,” Holmes said.

Mrs. Holmes said it’s been an uphill battle for Coach Holmes. The latest update she received was that he is breathing better but he’s still weak and has a long way to go.

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