Ellen Lee Holmes died August 7, 2023, in Wayne, Oklahoma, at the age of 88 years 11 months 4 days. A private family memorial will be scheduled for a later date, entrusted to the care of Wadley’s Funeral Service.
Ellen was born September 3, 1934, in Manhattan, New York, to Frederick and Ellen (Sacco) Pettet. She was raised in NYC and Wanamassa, New Jersey. Ellen continued her education at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
From a tender age of three, Ellen held an unwavering attraction to horses. She cherished watching the majestic police horses patrolling the streets of Manhattan. As she grew older, her interest blossomed into a lifelong passion. Ellen dedicated herself to their care and well-being -- from breeding to riding and showing -- embracing every aspect with fervor. She spent every day of her life in the saddle up until this past March.
In 1960, Ellen exchanged vows with Anthony Giordano in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Together they had two children and became owners of a thoroughbred horse farm -Valhalla Farm - in Horsham, Pennsylvania, for over two decades.
In 1980 Ellen embarked on a new chapter in Colorado. It was there that she married Joseph Holmes in 1981. An accomplished horsewoman, Ellen operated her own farms across several states including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming, and eventually Oklahoma where she relocated to the town of Wayne in 2000. Ellen’s passion for horses extended beyond the confines of her private farms. She exhibited her horses at the renowned Madison Square Gardens Arena in the 1950s, and proudly earned the title of Grand Champion of the Carraige Marathon at the esteemed Devon Horse Show in 1974.
In Wayne, she raised Paints and Freisians as well as parrots and canaries. Her dedication and unwavering commitment to all of her animals was truly awe-inspiring.
Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Ellen Pettet.
She is survived by her daughters, Toni Ann Kistner and Regina Haas; her grandchildren, Tim Kistner, Jim Kistner, Daniel Kistner, Jacquelyn O’Conner and Rachael Haas; her beloved dog, Theodore; her horses and parrots; and numerous friends.