The Tennessee College Public Relations Association established this award in honor of Charles Holmes, a founding member of TCPRA.

Holmes, who died in 2011 at the age of 76, was the community relations director at the University of Memphis where he advised four of the university’s presidents and two interim presidents over 33 years. This award is presented annually to a member of TCPRA who demonstrates steadfast service and earnest dedication to the organization.

To nominate someone for the Charles Holmes Award, review the criteria above and submit the nominee’s name as well as an explanation of why the nominee should be considered for the honor. No entry fee is required for this award. Nominations will be accepted through April 24, 2015, and should be emailed to Dewayne Wright at dawright@tntech.edu. A selection committee will review all nominations. Recipients will be recognized at the awards ceremony at the TCPRA statewide meeting on May 29 in Gatlinburg.

About Charles Holmes

After graduating from Memphis State College in 1957, Charles Franklin Holmes became a reporter for The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal for five years before becoming Director of Public Information at Memphis State University in 1962. Mr. Holmes remained at the university as head of public relations until 1995 when he became special assistant and government relations liaison to then-president Dr. V. Lane Rawlins. Holmes fully retired in 2000.

Mr. Holmes was well-known throughout West and Middle Tennessee for his public relations connections and his invaluable assistance in many local crisis situations including working with then-sheriff William N. Morris following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Subsequently, he was asked by Sheriff Morris and Criminal Court Judge W. Preston Battle to prepare a plan for seating  the many local, national and international media representatives at the trial of James Earl Ray, King’s killer. After months of preparation, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, where he died.

Following the abbreviated trial, author Gerold Frank interviewed Holmes at great length before publishing his definitive book on the case called “An American Death.”

“Charlie had a tremendous impact both at the university and in his relationships with the leadership of the City of Memphis,” Morris noted. “He was a trusted friend as well as a strong bridge-builder for our community.”

Holmes was the voice of The University of Memphis for over three decades. He

  • Served as editor of “The Tiger Rag” student newspaper, during his senior year.
  • Was greatly involved in Memphis State College’s name change to Memphis State University in 1957 and then to The University of Memphis in 1994.
  • Co-authored with the late William Sorrels on a book about the history of Memphis State football.
  • Was past president of the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
  • Received the 1987 Outstanding Journalism Award by the university’s Journalism Alumni Association and the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Memphis Chapter of PRSA.
  • Was honored by the Tennessee College Public Relations Association in 2004 when an award in Holmes’ name was established to be given annually to a member of outstanding accomplishment.

Holmes also served with the U.S. Army in Germany at the time Elvis Presley was there and was assigned to deal with both the national and international media on their inquiries concerning the military life of Presley. While overseas, he appeared as a jeep driver in the Elvis’ movie “G.I Blues.”

Source: University of Memphis

Past Award Recipients

ConferenceAward Winner
2018 Spring Conference
Denise Colwell
2017 Annual Statewide Conference
Dewayne Wright
2016 Spring ConferenceMatthew S. Gann
TCPRA Spring Conference 2015Amy Blakely, University of
Tennessee, Knoxville
2013 Spring ConferenceJulia Wood
2012 Spring Conference
Doug Williams
2011 Spring ConferenceEric Melcher
2010 Spring ConferenceKaren Lykins
2009 Spring ConferenceGreg Pillon
2008 Spring Conference Kimberly Chaudoin
2007 Spring ConferenceDoug Williams