Former Reynolds CEO, downtown Dayton advocate dies

David Holmes, CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, walks along the Great Miami River levee. He is hoping to help develop the riverfront in Dayton.
David Holmes, CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, walks along the Great Miami River levee. He is hoping to help develop the riverfront in Dayton.

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

David Holmes, former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds and for years a leader in Dayton’s business and philanthropic communities, died Dec. 4 in Maine, at age 80.

Holmes came to Reynolds from Nabisco Brands in 1984, was named Reynolds’ president and chief executive in 1989, and led the company for over a decade as it went through a major transformation.

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Beyond the business, Holmes was instrumental in Dayton’s downtown redevelopment efforts in the 1990s.

“He, along with Dr. Ponitz and others, really got the business community involved in downtown Dayton and its development to maintain its status as the heart of region,” former Dayton Mayor Clay Dixon said Monday. “He did that work, but he got other leaders in the region involved too.”

Holmes led the creation of the Downtown Dayton Partnership and was a key figure in the establishment of RiverScape MetroPark, leading a fundraising campaign that triggered the $28 million riverfront revitalization.

“The RiverScape project was huge. We co-chaired that,” Holmes wife, Nancy, said Monday. “It was very rewarding and wonderful to see the impact. People came downtown again. It was an effort by many, many people.”

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Nancy Holmes said her husband had Reynolds partner with Dayton Public Schools and the University of Dayton. She said he also took on chairmanship of Dayton’s annual United Way campaign in 1992 — a year when the national United Way was hit by scandal — and would not stop until the goal was reached.

From 1984-89, Holmes led Reynolds’ computer systems division. Becoming CEO in 1989, Holmes inherited a company described in Dayton Daily News coverage as “posting low profits and resistant to change.”

David Holmes, CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, is hoping to develop the riverfront in Dayton.
David Holmes, CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, is hoping to develop the riverfront in Dayton.

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

But in 1992 Reynolds posted three quarters of record profits. Under Holmes, the company grew from $600 million in annual revenue to $1.6 billion before selling its business forms and document management division in 2000.

Holmes helped craft the strategic plan to position Reynolds as a technology company focused on the automotive industry. In his final years there, Reynolds also began its move from Ludlow Street in downtown to a newly built campus in Kettering’s Miami Valley Research Park.

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He retired as CEO and chairman of the board in early 2002.

“Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this time,” Reynolds & Reynolds officials said in a statement. “Dave was a dynamic leader for Reynolds and highly committed to Dayton and to growing the entire region. He left a lasting imprint on Reynolds and the community. And all of us are better for it.”

Nancy Holmes said she and Dave returned to Dayton many times in the past two decades, calling it “a special place” for them. She said she hopes people will remember Dave as “a caring, giving, energetic, vibrant individual who cared very much for people, and the community, and of course his family.”

Holmes, a Stanford and Northwestern graduate, is survived by his wife of 55 years, Nancy; sons, David (Heather), Stephen (Heather) and Jeffrey (Ann), plus six grandchildren and other family. The family said there will be a celebration of life at a future time. Donations are encouraged to the Alzheimer’s Association or the charity of your choice.

David Holmes turn over a shovel full of dirt to officially break ground for RiverScape on Wednesday. Holmes chaired the project, and it was named Holmes Harbor.
David Holmes turn over a shovel full of dirt to officially break ground for RiverScape on Wednesday. Holmes chaired the project, and it was named Holmes Harbor.

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

Credit: SKIP PETERSON

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