We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Ashtabula Home
ASHTABULA - On May 31, 2022, the community lost an extraordinary man; Adam Holman (also known as AD), age 86, who went home to be with the Lord following a brief illness.
AD was born to Abraham Holman, Sr. and Rosie Sparks in Marvel, Arkansas on July 9th, 1935. AD was the 5th of 12 Children.
A few years after AD's birth, his father, Abraham Holman, moved the family to Wyatt Missouri. Growing up in rural Missouri was extremely difficult for African Americans as the families faced economic hardships and extreme racial injustice. His family was poor by economic standards, but rich in love, values and cultural pride. Faced with daily prejudice, discrimination and hatred for the color of his skin, Adam grew increasingly aware of injustices and knew he had to work hard to rise above the negative perceptions of Black people. He knew that mediocrity was not an option for him and his family. To his credit, AD worked with his father to help support the family, but also found time to excel in both education and sports. His efforts did not go unnoticed. Following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision in Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas), establishing that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, AD was selected (along with other outstanding African American youth) to be part of a group who would integrate the white and segregated Charleston High School (MO). Just a year after graduating from Charleston High School, the Civil Rights Movement had begun in the United States. Mr. Holman knew he had to stay steadfast and focused on doing his part, and he did. "Change" and "Social Justice" just were not words to him they were his life goals.
Everyone who knew him and everyone who was lucky enough to have had him in their lives, knows he accomplished those goals. He made a difference, he helped facilitate change, and he taught all his students, players, family and community members the importance of hard work and equality. AD decided to pursue his goal of becoming a teacher and attended the Historically Black College and University (aka HBCUs), Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, AL. Due to financial hardship, he was unable to remain there and transferred to Lincoln University (Jefferson City, MO) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. Later in his career, AD also earned a Master's Degree in Education from Youngstown State University.
Adam's eldest brother Elijah, served in the armed forces and settled in a boom town called Ashtabula, OH. After a few visits, AD relocated to Ashtabula and initially worked for New York Central Railroad, and subsequently Rockwell Automation, and the City of Ashtabula. He was also an outstanding athlete and avid sports fan who found time to participate in sports leagues for golfing, basketball and baseball. AD was also instrumental in opening the first office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP, Unit 3171) in Ashtabula City and was the President for many years. He could be found anywhere with his hand full of voter registration cards encouraging everyone who wasn't registered, to do so, so that they could cast their vote on election day. Throughout his membership and presidency, he raised thousands of dollars for scholarships for students. Unknown by most, Adam was drafted to play baseball for the Cleveland Indians Minor League team, but following his father's advice, passed on the opportunity. In 2008, he was inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame.
Adam's passion for education and his love of youth came together in 1967 when he joined the Ashtabula Area City School (AACS). This started a 40+ year labor of love working as a teacher of various subjects, including Social Studies, Health/PE and Driver's Education. In addition to these teaching roles, AD was a leader as Assistant High School, Jr. High Boys Basketball Coach, Head Girls Basketball Coach, Jr. High Football Coach, Head Track Coach, and AHS Athletic Director. He balanced his roles in the school district with his dedication to his church; Adam was a man of God, he was baptized in the back water of the Mississippi River and was blessed with his role as Deacon at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ, and as a leader in the community who always led by his actions. Even after retirement in 2002 from AACS, you would still see Mr. Holman volunteering at the Lakeside High School Dragons sporting events.
AD's passions went beyond education and the community. In Ashtabula, he found the love of his life in Ms. Betty R. Miller. Betty is a woman of God, faithful wife of 64 years, loving mother, and successful business owner. They gave birth to Reginald and RoLesia Holman and currently operate one of the oldest African American owned businesses in the State of Ohio (Betty's Beauty Shoppe).
From the moment of his arrival to this very day, there is unlikely one person or organization in Ashtabula City that has not been touched by AD Holman. He led by example so that we could be better and challenged each of us to do better and live life with purpose. His efforts have been unmatched by any one person; the obstacles he has overcome and the mountains he has moved for the African American community, as well as others, will never be forgotten. If AD was standing here, he would challenge us to go beyond talking and actually do something about the social, economic and racial inequities we face today. For all of you that knew him; you also knew that his words were followed by his actions. Adam remains well respected by individuals from every racial, political, economic and religious background. He loved and was loved by many.
AD leaves- to continue his legacy- his beautiful wife Betty; his proud and loving children: Reginald Holman and RoLesia Holman; his granddaughter Porcha Benton Lee (husband Anthony Lee); his greatgrandchildren Aiden, Zaiyirr and Nala Lee; his sister Mrs. Doris (Holman) Richardson of Chicago, extended family Lynda Sykes and Wanda Clark of St. Louis, MO and a host of cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Abraham, Sr. and Rosie (Sparks) Holman; and his siblings: Elijah Holman, Bessie (Holman) Osborne, Ruthie (Holman) Sanders, Godfrey Holman, Elizabeth (Holman) Holmes, Abraham Holman, Jr. and 4 siblings in infancy.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 11th, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at the Lakeside High School Auditorium; burial will follow in Chestnut Grove Cemetery. Calling hours will be held on Friday, June 10th, 2022 in the evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ, 3417 Hiawatha Avenue., Ashtabula. Memorial contributions can be made to The Adam Holman Scholarship Fund, which will be created in his name and given annually to a graduating senior going on to college, who during their high school years has worked in the community to help promote equality.