CHELSEA – The impact that Scouting had on Howard S. “Howdy” Holmes some 50 years ago was felt recently when he was able to recite the Boy Scout Oath and Law from memory.
Holmes, president of Chelsea Milling Company best known for its “JIFFY” mix brand, is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Citizen’s Award presented by the Southern Shores Field Service Council. The 20th annual Washtenaw County Distinguished Citizen’s Award Dinner was held on October 6 at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor.
“When I was contacted about this award I automatically recited the Boy Scout Oath and Law. That just came out and I have no idea where it came from,” Holmes said. “Scouting clearly left an impression on my mind because that was 50 plus years ago. It’s not something I’m aware of talking about since.”
The Distinguished Citizen’s Award is presented annually to an individual who has provided outstanding leadership to their community on a personal and professional level, while also supporting the mission of Scouting.
“Our Scouts learn the importance of exceptional leadership and community service from the day they join the Boy Scouts of America,” said Melissa Stricherz, Scout Executive for Southern Shores. “Mr. Holmes is a tremendous example to our youth of what a dedicated community leader looks like and we are humbled by his acceptance of this award.”
Holmes said being chosen to receive the award has special significance for him.
“It’s a prestigious award and it’s special to me because my father also received it,” he said.
Although Holmes said he doesn’t have specific memories of his time as a Boy Scout, he remembers it as being a positive experience that gave him the values he needed to figure things out at a young age.
“I know if I need to I can take two rocks and create a spark which is something I can directly relate back to being a Boy Scout,” Holmes said.
In addition to leading the company founded by his family in 1901, Holmes is a former race car driver who competed in six Indianapolis 500 events and was named “Rookie of the Year” in 1979. He also is an author, journalist, and public speaker.
As he goes about his daily life, Holmes said he sees the need for the values and ideals that Scouting instills in its youth.
“Boy Scouting has created an environment which demonstrates and teaches young boys a value system and it is often the case, more recently than not, that there aren’t a lot of other sources to learn those values,” he said. “With the fragmentation of the family unit these days a lot of things are left out.”
For many youth, he said, Scouting provides the inclusiveness and camaraderie that other extracurricular activities don’t.
“The need for camaraderie and to feel like you’re part of a team and to feel a part of something are significant things in a young guy’s life and unlike sports where you may not make the team, Scouting welcomes everybody,” Holmes said.