Colleagues mourn passing of von Braun secretary

Colleagues mourn passing of von Braun secretary

HUNTSVILLE, AL (AP) - Family, friends and colleagues in the space industry are mourning the loss of a very important woman.

Visitation was held Sunday for the right-hand woman to Dr. Wernher von Braun, Bonnie Holmes.

Holmes was, for 18 years, the trusted personal secretary to Dr. von Braun, and a beloved figure at Marshall Space Flight Center.

After retiring from Marshall, Holmes went on to raise funds for the IMAX theater at the Space and Rocket Center.

We sat down with Ed Buckbee, who had the opportunity to work alongside Bonnie and will remember her best as a walking encyclopedia of all things space.

"She was a person you could depend on to get the right answer and she always had the information," Buckbee recalled. "Basically, she ran that office and that was not a simple job, because you can imagine - this man is communicating with people all over the world, they want something immediately and Bonnie was the person to get it done."

In 2010, during Marshall Space Flight Center's 50th anniversary, she shared her feelings about the man she worked for.

"Everyone who worked for him admired him because he treated everyone as a real person," she said.

Buckbee recalled Holmes' "can-do" spirit, even when it came to von Braun's foibles.

"He was known to lose things frequently, everything from his passport to a rental car," Buckbee said. "Believe it or not, Bonnie was the one to find those items."

He also admired her understanding of the "Space Race" and how Holmes fit in amongst "America's greatest space generation."

"She knew how important, how critical it was for us to beat the Russians to the moon within the decade. We all understood that mission. Bonnie was one of those who was a leader of that feeling of 'We must complete this mission," he said. "That was Bonnie Holmes."

Holmes' funeral will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at Hamby's Chapel.

Click here to sign Holmes' virtual guestbook.

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