Devon Cottrell Holmes (1947-2004)

Born in California, Devon was the oldest daughter of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American and South East Asian Affairs during the Kennedy administration.  Her father's posts included Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. 

She studied painting at UCSB, where she earned her BA, and later a MS from Elmira College in New York.  After college she relocated to the Finger Lakes where, among other things, she worked at the local high school as a substitute teacher.  One day she brought her authentic Egyptian artifacts to class, in response to which another teacher in the school, Andrew Holmes, invited her to meet Anthony Damiani regarding the proper management of these relics. 

Within weeks of their first meeting, Devon became one of Anthony’s ardent students, even trudging to class on wintry days when the roads were closed.  When the opportunity arose to serve as PB’s assistant, she went to Switzerland with her husband, Timothy Smith, where she cared for PB’s well being and worked on the early phases of organizing PB’s Notebooks.  After their return to Ithaca, Devon dedicated hundreds of hours to keeping track of the various iterations of the Notebook project as it went from blurry Xeroxes to published books.  Her cheery demeanor helped her co-workers pass the time quickly.  She was fiercely loyal to all of her teachers.

During this time Devon was the Assistant Director of the Career Center at Cornell University, in which capacity she organized all the placement interviews and training sessions for the students and also created a network amongst all the Ivy League school career centers.  Devon wanted students to become aware of the full range of careers available to them beyond those offered by the standard corporate and government recruiters that passed through her office.  To that end she created a 600-page book called Great Careers: The Fourth of July Guide to Careers in the Non-Profit Sector, which served as a useful reference book for students and counselors alike for many years.

With the publication of the Notebooks of Paul Brunton completed, Devon turned her attention eastward, first visiting with His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendrashankaracarya of India and then with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (when he was in America).  In 1990 she married Andrew Holmes and moved to Florida and then California.  Her sympathies for the Tibetan people were aroused.  As her interest in Tibetan Buddhism deepened,  she dedicated what was to be the last part of her life to this tradition.  She was deeply moved by the plight of the exiled Tibetan monks in South India, and on her return from a trip there she and her husband started the Sera Je Breakfast Fund, which guaranteed that all 2,600 monks in the Sera Je Monastery have breakfast every day.  This program has expanded into the Sera Je Food Fund, which now seeks to provide three meals a day for over 3,000 monks; donations can be made to very worthwhile cause by following this link.  During these years she also co-managed a very successful software development business with Andrew and found the time somewhere in her schedule for painting and other artistic endeavors.

Devon was an inspiring woman, both in her secular and her sacred pursuits.  Whether mending PB’s shirts or persisting with her Breakfast Fund until it was realized, Devon was the literal embodiment of good will and of merry laughter.  Throughout her own battle with cancer, in the years that followed, and up to the day of her death, she maintained a vigorous discipline of study and meditation and passionately devoted herself to the care and welfare of her teachers and fellow students.