Industry veteran, association leader
Gordon R. (Ray) Holcomb, a longtime drycleaner and industry leader, died peacefully in his sleep at his Dallas, TX, home Nov. 11 with his wife of 72 years, Lucy, at his side. He was 92.
A child of The Great Depression, he worked during the summers on his grandparents’ east Texas farm and remembered losing all the money he earned picking cotton after the bank where it was deposited went broke.
During World War II, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps and spent the war flying in the European theater. He was trained as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot but was assigned as a personal pilot for a general, his son, Craig Holcomb, told the Dallas News. “He flew the general to Morocco, Rome and places like Milan,” his son said.
He and Lucy married during one of his leaves and spent their wedding night in the backseat of a Dodge on the way to his post in El Paso.
After the war, Holcomb opened Lakewood Towers Launderette and later bought Top Hat Cleaners. The business grew to have four locations in east Dallas.
Holcomb was a past president of the Texas Laundry and Drycleaning Association, the Dallas Laundry and Dry Cleaning Association and the International Fabricare Institute.
He also served on the Dallas Board of Adjustment and counted other Dallas leaders among his customers. They included Park Board President Ray Hubbard, City Attorney Henry Kucera, Sheriff Bill Decker and District Attorney Henry Wade.
“Being around people like that, you realized that it took people working to make Dallas work,” Ray Holcomb said.
His son said he once asked his father who this “big man” was he was supposed to be.
“He said a big man was someone who put all he could into life without any regard for what he was going to get back, and that was the way to be happy.”
In 1989, Holcomb sold the business to Faulkner’s Fine Dry Cleaning and Laundry, where he worked until about one month ago.
“My father worked six days a week into his 90s,” his son said.
He was a longtime member of the East Dallas Exchange Club, where he volunteered for activities including Reading Is Fundamental. An avid golfer, he had six holes in one at the Lakewood Country Club, his son said.
In addition to his wife and son, Holcomb is survived by another son, Paul Holcomb of Dallas, and two grandchildren.
Services were held at White Rock United Methodist Church, where he was an active member for more than 60 years.
The family requests that memorials be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.