Vela E. Holmes, 90, a District resident who was a retired D.C. public schools educator and the mother of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), died Sept. 30 at Howard University Hospital. She had a heart ailment.

A teacher and counselor, she spent more than 30 years in the D.C. schools before retiring about 1970. She had served in several schools, including Gage, Slater Langston and Nevill Thomas Elementary schools.

Mrs. Holmes, who was born in Littleton, N.C., moved as a teenager to Syracuse, N.Y., where she graduated from Syracuse Normal School. She then moved to Washington and graduated from Howard University. Later, she received a master's degree in education from New York University.

Over the years, she had been active in the League of Women Voters and had done volunteer paraprofessional legal work for senior citizens. She had been a longtime D.C. Board of Elections poll watcher in her Shepherd Park neighborhood.

Mrs. Holmes had been a member of the altar guild at St. George's Episcopal Church in Washington. Her hobbies included bridge.

Her husband, Coleman S. Holmes, died in 1976. In addition to Del. Norton, of Washington, her survivors include two other daughters, Dr. Portia Shields of Albany, Ga., and Nellie Hollomand of South Pasadena, Calif.; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.