Here’s why a special tree was planted in 1932 at a Riverside church – press enterprise


In front of the First Congregational Church in Riverside is a very tall and mature deodar tree.

A large deodar tree was planted in the First Congregational Church in Riverside in 1932 in honor of a couple, Will and Louise Holmes, who had died the previous year. (Photo by Kim Jarrell Johnson, Contributing Photographer)

The age of the tree is not in question, as at its base is a plaque indicating that it was planted in 1932. The story behind this monument is that the Riverside community came together to honor two of his own.

The plaque at the base of the tree indicates that it was planted in honor of Will and Louise Holmes. Husband and wife died in an unfortunate car accident on June 5, 1931, while on their way to Los Angeles. He was 43 and she was 42 at the time.

It appears the couple met when Louise visited Will’s aunt and uncle in Riverside in 1912. They were married in April 1913, in a ceremony in the Music Room of the Mission Cloister. Inn, with lunch in the dining hall. Will graduated from Northwestern Medical College in Chicago and had established his practice in Pomona. Louise was a schoolteacher in her hometown of Wyoming, Illinois, before her marriage. The couple’s only daughter, Mary Louise, was born in Pomona in 1917.

Will was an ear, nose and throat specialist and moved his practice to Riverside in 1919. He was associated with Riverside Community Hospital and was on the board of directors of the Riverside County Medical Association, of which he was president in 1923. He was also very active at Kiwanis. , the Evergreen Masonic Lodge, the Chamber of Commerce and the Boy Scouts.

Louise was also active in community affairs. She was on the board of directors of the Riverside County Clinic and was involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Guild at the First Congregational Church. Both were musicians and singers and also sang with the choir of the First Congregational Church.

On Sunday June 5, 1932, one year to the day after the deaths of Will and Louise, the Mayflower Guild at First Congregational Church held a ceremony in which they planted the deodar tree on the church lawn in memory. of the couple. This particular tree species was selected due to an event that occurred shortly before the couple encountered their disappearance. The Mayflower League had hosted a social occasion where women were invited to draw their favorite tree. Louise drew a deodar tree and received the award for best drawing.

A plaque at the base of a deodar tree in front of the First Congregational Church in Riverside reminds everyone that the tree is dedicated to Will and Louise Holmes. (Photo by Kim Jarrell Johnson, Contributing Photographer)

The Holmes’ daughter was 14 when her parents died. An aunt and uncle moved in with her to Riverside, where they stayed for a year. Mary Louise later returned to the East to live with her family, where she graduated from high school. She then attended Mills College. Mary Louise married in 1936, had two sons and died at the sadly precocious age of 27 after a long illness.

Will and Louise Holmes, along with their daughter Mary Louise, are all buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Riverside. The deodar tree, 89 years old at the time of this writing, still graces the lawn of the First Congregational Church on Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside.

If you have an idea for a future Back in the Day column on a local historic person, place or event, contact Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson at [email protected]


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