New Young Men leader: He learned early to seek first the kingdom of God

As a student at Brighton High School near Salt Lake City, Douglas D. Holmes was well liked, so much so that many associates encouraged him to run for student body president.

“A seminary teacher I loved came to me and asked me to serve as president of the seminary council,” recalled Brother Holmes, who was sustained at general conference April 4 as first counselor in the new Young Men general presidency.

“He said, ‘But you won’t be able to be the student body president; are you all right with that?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ It was a great experience, and I loved it.”

Serving in that position, he said, helped him to gain a fervent spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, as the seminary council developed a theme for that year around that volume of scripture.

The experience was consistent with a pattern in Brother Holmes’ life of seeking first the kingdom of God with the expectation that joy and happiness will follow. Along the way, he and his wife, the former Erin Sue Toone, have experienced the blessings of seeking and following spiritual direction in their lives.

For example, as he was finishing his education for an MBA from BYU’s Marriott School of Management, he received an attractive offer to go to work for a prestigious management-consulting firm. But he and Sister Holmes felt uneasy because they hadn’t received the spiritual confirmation that this would be good for them.

“I came to the point that I resolved fully in my heart that as much as I wanted to do it, as much as my professors and colleagues would think I was stupid if I didn’t take it, as much as I didn’t have another option on the table, that I would be ready to say no and walk away from it if it was not right,” he recalled.

Sister Holmes remembered, “We knelt down and prayed and said that if it wasn’t going to be the right thing for our family, we wouldn’t do it; we were truly willing to just walk away from it.”

Brother Holmes added, “And once we did that, the heavens opened, and we got a clear confirmation. It was an interesting and very instructive experience for us. We realized that it was the right thing, but we weren’t going to get that answer until our heart was right and we were willing to follow the Lord in whatever He wanted us to do.”

It was a moment of testing and purifying of the heart, Brother Holmes said. And one that set a pattern for the couple, Sister Holmes added and, thereby, the Lord has opened many opportunities for them.

Those opportunities have taken Brother and Sister Holmes and their six children to many areas of the country: Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; and Farmington, Utah.

One of those far-flung locales was Detroit, Michigan, where he served as mission president from 2010 to 2013. Their three younger children went with them.

“The mission was as huge blessing,” Sister Holmes said. “You are blessed with an amazing gift of love. As soon as we saw the pictures of the missionaries, we just loved them. It was good for our children to serve and sacrifice. And they too loved the missionaries.”

Brother Homes added, “We still have relationships with the missionaries; rarely a day goes by when we don’t hear from one of them.”

When his new calling was announced, he said, “our mission Facebook page blew up!”

Born in Salt Lake City in 1961, Douglas Holmes was next-to-youngest and the only boy in a family of five children.

“We had fabulous parents who loved us dearly and taught us much,” he said.

His father, Dee W. Holmes, owned a building materials distribution business.

“One of the greatest things he taught us, that I’ve tried to continue with our own children, is work hard and be responsible for your work,” he said. “He was not a strict disciplinarian, but he created high expectations and gave lots of encouragement.”

His mother, Melba Howell Holmes, “was clearly the more sensitive one and the glue that held everything together,” he said. She continues today to exhibit the qualities of virtue and goodness that she displayed in rearing the family, he added.

Brother Holmes served in the Scotland Glasgow Mission from 1980 to 1982, including a seven–month stint in Northern Ireland.

It was while he was on his mission that his parents moved to Liberty in the Ogden Valley of northern Utah. There, his father became the bishop of a singles ward begun in 1983.

“My dad was his counselor, and I was still a senior in high school at the time,” said Sister Holmes, whose family lived in the nearby town of Eden.

Thus it was that Douglas D. Holmes met his future wife as they both attended that singles ward.

After some ups and downs in their relationship, she left Weber State University and moved to Denver, Colorado, where she roomed with a friend while working at two jobs.

“He came after me,” she said.

“Well, she could hold down two jobs, so I knew she could support me,” he joked.

They were married nine weeks later in the Salt Lake Temple.

From Brigham Young University, Brother Holmes received a bachelor’s degree in family science in 1986 and went on to earn an MBA degree in 1988. There followed a successful career in management consulting and the telecommunications industry, and in personal investment, interspersed with community service on the boards of civic organizations and the couple’s mission in Detroit.

Through it all they have reared six children, and they now have four grandchildren.

Brother Holmes said, “Like the people of Alma, we have seen the power of the word change our hearts, including the words of the prophets, the words of the scriptures and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, for which we are most grateful.”

Pertaining to his new calling, Brother Holmes reflects on a statement attributed to the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to the effect that this generation of youth have a greater capacity for obedience than any previous generation.

“I think that’s part of the Lord’s timetable and preparation for the days we live in,” he said. “I think that tells us a lot about this generation and the incredible days we live in.”

Biographical information

Family: Born Feb. 27, 1961, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Dee W. and Melba Howell Holmes; married Erin Sue Toone in the Salt Lake Temple on June 22, 1985; six children: Allison (Matthew) Sorensen, Ashley (Taylor) Millett, Heidi (Dane) Erickson, Blake (Brianna), Whitney, Matthew; four grandchildren.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in family science, 1986, and MBA, 1988, both from Brigham Young University.

Employment: Self-employed in investment and real estate development since 2013 and prior to 2010; CFO of Media One, the third-largest cable company and wireless carrier in the United States from 1991 to 2000; professional management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton from 1988.

Community service: Board chairman of United Way of Davis County, Utah; board member of Safe Harbor women’s shelter in Davis County; chairman of Parents for Choice in Education.

Church service: A counselor in Ogden Utah Young Single Adult 2nd Stake presidency at time of call; former bishop and bishopric member, ward Young Men president and counselor, ward mission leader, member of stake Young Men presidency, Sunday School gospel doctrine teacher, ordinance worker in Bountiful Utah Temple; served in the Scotland Glasgow Mission, 1980-82.

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