Richard Erskine Holcomb passed away Sunday, February 25, 2018, after an extended illness. A native of Wichita Falls, Texas, Holcomb was born May 30, 1951 to Robert Bradley and Dorothy Mae (Guel) Holcomb. He is preceded in death by both parents; his brother, Roger Lee Holcomb; and his sister, Helen Marie Holcomb.
Holcomb attended Notre Dame High School and graduated in 1969. He graduated from Midwestern State University earning both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Theatre Arts. His education extended to Texas Tech University where he earned a Doctorate of Fine Arts Management.
Holcomb’s teaching career spanned more than three decades and four states. He began his teaching career in Uvalde, Texas at Southwest Texas Junior College in 1977. There he was the “one man” theatre department. His duties included teaching classes, directing plays, as well as designing the scenery, costuming, and lighting for the various productions. Each summer the area communities looked forward to the annual dinner theater productions. He implemented new curriculum to include a children’s theatre group that traveled throughout the Southwestern part of Texas. At Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, he chaired the Department of Theatre Design for three years. He left Beaumont, Texas to accept a position as Department Chair of Theatre Design for North Texas State University in Denton, Texas. There, his scenery and costume designs were used for a variety of productions as well as for the Centennial Extravaganza Celebration. His children’s theatre classes worked with surrounding schools, enabling students of many levels to enjoy the theatre arts. From Texas, Holcomb secured an administrative position at Palm Beach Community College at the Lake Worth Campus in Florida. He served as the Division Chair for the Humanities Department in addition to overseeing the Watson B. Duncan Theatre. His expertise in fine arts management, curriculum, and budget strengthened his choice to remain at the community college level where the focus was the student. He assisted in designing the renovation of the Humanities Building on the Lake Worth Campus. His design and input upgraded the arts building to a state of the art experience for the students, faculty, staff, and community in which to learn. After ascending to the position of Associate Dean of Humanities, Holcomb chose a move to Torrington, Wyoming in 2007 to serve as the Vice-President of Eastern Wyoming College. While there, he worked with curriculum across the college spectrum, renovated buildings, upgraded the quality and accessibility of the various departments to the surrounding communities, as well as worked with faculty, staff, and students. At one point, he was the Interim President as well as the Vice-President of EWC. When Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan offered Holcomb the position of Vice-Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, he saw his final opportunity to use his expertise with curriculum and student services. While there, he revamped the curriculum, making certain that it was uniform for each of the five campuses before retiring.
Throughout his career, Holcomb received several honors and recognition. He was named Designer of the Southwest while a graduate student. In addition to the honor, his designs were featured and hung at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Working with the Beaumont and Houston Opera Companies, he designed the scenery for several of the groups’ many opera productions. Moreover, he designed productions for the Dallas Repertory Theatre in North Park. He served in leadership positions for the United States Institute for Technical Theatre Associations. Furthermore, Holcomb was a graduate of and leader for the Leadership Development Councils in both Palm Beach and Oakland Counties.
Holcomb is survived by his son Bradley Allan Holcomb and his wife Karen of Centennial, Colorado; his daughter Catherine Camille (Holcomb) James and her husband Anthony of Noblesville, Indiana, and three granddaughters Molly Grace James, Emily Paige James, and Ruby Claire James. His surviving brothers and sisters include Barbara Ann Martini, Robert Edward Holcomb, Thomas Arthur Holcomb, and Marian Gail Lowery. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews as well as great-nieces and nephews in addition to cousins.
The family would like to acknowledge Richard’s lifelong best friend, Jeff Panther, as well as all of the students and faculty members for whom Holcomb cared so much throughout his career.
A Celebration of Life gathering will be held on March 24th at Colonial Baptist Church in Wichita Falls. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gift of Life Transplant House (724 Second Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902).