Denfeld News

Dec. 18, 2008
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Roger Holmes, director of DNR's fish, wildlife division, dies
By Dennis Anderson

Roger Holmes, a Duluth native who served as director of the Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division for 10 years --gaining the respect of colleagues in Minnesota and nationwide, as well as hunters, anglers and legislators -- died at his home Wednesday in St. Paul.

The cause was complications from prostate cancer. He was 72.

Holmes, who worked for the DNR for 41 years, retired in 2000. He was honored last spring when a 1,000-acre wildlife management area near Alexandria costing more than $1 million was named for him.

Holmes began his DNR career in 1958. In 1962 he put himself on an agency fast track when he helped establish 25 wildlife management areas in Douglas and Pope counties in three years.

"Roger was a great leader,'' said Roger Johnson, who retired from the DNR in 2002 as a regional wildlife manager. "And what made him a great leader was his willingness to listen. He made sure he heard everyone's opinions, and he listened to them. Then he made his decision.''

In 1972, Holmes became chief of the DNR wildlife section, and in 1990 he was named Fish and Wildlife Division director, holding that position until his retirement.

"Roger was always an impressive, imposing figure,'' said Ed Boggess, who joined the DNR in 1982 and is now its Fish and Wildlife Division deputy director. "The part that everyone saw was his dedication to, and passion for, natural resources. What wasn't so obvious was how much he cared about people. Not just staff, but all people, especially those who enjoyed natural resources.''

Respectful when appearing before legislators, Holmes nevertheless was known to be direct when testifying at the Capitol on conservation issues.

"He would tell it like it was and might even pound the table once in a while,'' Boggess said. "He would say, 'Look, this is what we have to do.' He could get away with it because people could see his passion.''

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