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Alex M. Bagby

Helen Holmes

2021 Distinguished Alumni

B.S. English  '36


Helen Freudenberger Holmes was born in 1915 to German immigrant parents on a farm near Pleasant Valley, Okla., graduating as Coyle High School valedictorian, age 16, in 1932. She attended Oklahoma A&M College, receiving a B.S. in English in 1936. As Star Reporter for the Daily O’Collegian, she wrote more column inches than anyone in the history of the paper.

At the University of Wisconsin (Madison), she was the first woman to receive an M.S. in Agriculture Journalism in 1940. In 1940 she became the first woman Instructor to teach journalism at OSU.  She was founding sponsor of the Fourth Estate Club, and Theta Sigma Phi, a national women’s journalism honorary fraternity. In addition, she was the first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and military member sworn in to active duty in World War II from Oklahoma in 1942. She retired with the rank of Major.

Moving to a farm near Coyle, she married Robert Holmes, who died in 1962.  They had three children, all graduates of OSU. Later she was Editor of the Flying Farmer Magazine; author and editor of The Logan County History: 1889-1979; author of the Guthrie Daily Leader 89er Editions 1980-97. During her term after elected Mayor of Guthrie  in 1979, she championed the architectural renovation of the city.  It received $1 million in federal funding for the projects.

She died in 1997. Since then, she has been posthumously inducted into the: U.S. Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, and Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

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