Holmes Tuttle became an enigmatic figure of Oklahoma history and a leader in business and politics. Though he never held public office, he had great influence with several notable political figures including Presidents Ronald Reagan, Gerald R. Ford and Richard M. Nixon.
Holmes opened his first car dealership, Holmes Tuttle, Inc., in 1945. This business evolved into 14 dealerships in California and Arizona, helping him become one of the most successful auto dealers and businessmen in the nation.
In 1952, Holmes helped campaign for President Dwight Eisenhower. He also worked on the presidential campaigns of Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. A close friend and a longtime adviser to Ronald Reagan, Holmes is credited with convincing Reagan to give the speech that launched his political career and later run for California Governor in 1966. A member of Reagan’s so-called kitchen cabinet, he was an influential voice on important policy issues well into President Reagan’s second term.
Although Holmes never attended college, he received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University. In 1955, he helped found Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California. He also served as director of Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1975. He died in Montecito, California, in 1989 at the age of 83. He left a legacy in both business and family. His son, Robert Tuttle, served as ambassador to England under President Bush.