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Alison Holmes

Alison was one of the four children of Stanley Gordon Martin and Frances Heather Martin. She was born in Chefoo (later Yantai), China. Alison and her siblings were raised at the Chefoo School where her father was Headmaster.


In a forerunner of World War II, Japan initiated war with China in July 1937. During the war, the Japanese army took control of the school, and the students and staff were moved to the Weihsien Internment Camp, where the family remained until 1945. On August 17, 1945, six American soldiers and a Chinese interpreter parachuted into Weihsien with Hershey chocolate bars, and the family was released and returned to England.

Several years after the war, the family returned to China. Alison had her heart set on studying at Oxford University, so attended school in Bristol and subsequently achieved her goal, receiving her Bachelor’s degree from St. Annes College Oxford, and a Master’s degree from Oxford University. A lifelong learner, Alison combined philosophy and literature to refine the beliefs she held so dear - unity, kindness, and the interconnectedness of all life.


In 1958, Alison married William Holmes DPhil, 1917-1985, an Oxford don, Fellow of St. Johns College, and the Department of Zoology. In 1962 she gave birth to her only child, her dearly loved daughter, Kate. Alison shared her love of English Literature with A Level and Oxford Entrance students until her husband’s death in 1985. Fluent in French, Alison also translated several books on philosophy into English. Following William’s death, she left Oxford for the USA, spending time in California, before settling in Arizona at the invitation of her late uncle, Morris Martin (Ora DeConcini Martin).

Alison spent many years at Prescott College. As Adult Degree Program faculty, she worked experientially with students by encouraging the sensing, feeling, thinking, intuiting person to respond to nature, poetry and literature, with their total presence. A much loved and respected friend, advisor and wise elder, Alison stayed in contact with many of her students and colleagues, continually writing long and thoughtful letters, celebrating their victories, holding them accountable for their dreams and intentions, and generally cheering them on.


Alison always focused on putting kindness and inclusion at the fore, and her support of political issues, social justice, and environmental causes, bore witness to this. Given her deeply loved and loving family, she longed to see the world as a unified family working together in joyful cooperation.

After retirement, health issues necessitated more time at home which gave space for a deepening consciousness and exploration. Alison’s little house amidst the apricot-coloured rocks of the Granite Dells in Prescott, Arizona, was filled with colour, life, music, and books. She was most peaceful there, connecting with friends by phone, letter or email, or simply enjoying the sun on Granite Mountain in the company of one of her many beloved cats. She delighted in feeding the wildlife that wandered across her patio, reveled in the seasons as they changed and echoed the rhythm of life, and absorbed the calm and abiding energy of the rocks.

Alison’s physical absence leaves a great hole for all who loved her, but her loving presence remains in every glass of champagne, every cup of tea, every lively discussion with friends, every call of the canyon wren, and in every sunrise. Until the very end, she encouraged everyone to slow down, observe, and stay curious.

Alison was pre-deceased by her parents, Gordon and Heather; her husband William; and her three siblings, Elisabeth, John, and Richard. She is survived by daughter Kate Frizzell (Mark); granddaughter Alex (Dustin); grandson Chris; nieces and nephews, Katie, Ewan, Alec, and Ian in Canada; Frances, Charlotte, Giles, Stephen, Philip, Alice, and Thomas in England; with their spouses and children.

Published in the Prescott Daily Courier on July 16th, 2022. Link here.

Alison's Key Dates

- Born March 24th, 1947

- Married William Holmes in 1958 

- Her daughter, Kate, was born in 1962 

- Moved to the US (California) in 1985

- Died on July 1st, 2022 in Prescott AZ 

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