Long-time city educator dies

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016


A heralded local educator died late last week for unknown reasons.

On Sept. 1, Emily Holcombe, a longtime biology teacher at Lakeland High School, died at just 63 years old.

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“She could light up a room with her laughter,” said India Meissel, a history teacher at Lakeland. “She was well thought-of by her former colleagues, former students and parents. We all have thought about how great of a loss this is going to be.”

Born on Sept. 23, 1952, in Suffolk, Holcombe was the daughter of Clifton Jesse Holcombe Jr. and Amy Jeanette Riddick Holcombe.

Holcombe was a graduate of Suffolk High School in 1970. In 1974, she received her bachelor’s degree in biology at Longwood College — now Longwood University. She later received her master’s degree from Old Dominion University.

Emily Holcombe, 63, a longtime Lakeland High School biology teacher, died on Sept. 1.

Emily Holcombe, 63, a longtime Lakeland High School biology teacher, died on Sept. 1.

Holcombe went on to teach biology at Forest Glen High School, which is currently a middle school, and at Lakeland. After 18 years at Lakeland, she retired in 2008.

During her time at Lakeland, she was an SCA sponsor, and she co-wrote the school’s alma mater, according to Meissel.

However, despite her retirement, Holcombe was still involved with the school.

“She always had a soft place in her heart for Lakeland High School,” said Amy Herrmann, a former colleague and friend for more than 30 years.

Holcombe had a profound effect on her students. In some cases, she inspired students to pursue science in college and in their careers, according to Meissel.

“She had an excellent rapport with the students,” Meissel said.

In the years to follow, Holcombe faced health complications.

“She had been sick in recent years and had a bout with cancer,” Meissel said.

However, in the days before her passing, Herrmann said Holcombe seemed happy and healthy. She was shocked by her friend’s passing.

“I’m very sad to see her go, but I know she is in a much better place,” Herrmann said.

Holcombe is survived by her brother, Clifton Jesse Holcombe III, her niece Allison Holcombe, her two grand nieces, Alice and Ruth Johnson, her nephew, Christopher Holcombe and several uncles, aunts and cousins.

Hermann said Holcombe asked to be cremated. R.W. Baker and Company Funeral Home and Crematory will be assisting the family.

A memorial service will be held for Holcombe in about a month, according to Patrick Pierce, a former high school classmate.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts and condolences may be offered at www.RWBakerFH.com.