Tony Holzhauer was a longtime volunteer in service to the residents of San Quentin. He showed up every Thursday night for 15 years to participate in the Restorative Justice program. He also served in the Kairos Prison Ministry. Tony had deep respect and compassion for the men inside. He sat with them, listened, and honored them in the moment, said his obituary in the Napa Valley Register. Tony would tell you that he got more than he gave. But he was a legend to the incarcerated men; a man with a big heart.
“He was a good man,” said Rahsaan Thomas, SQ resident and former Restorative Justice participant. “He made it a point to come in the prison as much as he could. Most people in society don’t take the time to care about us or understand that they also need emotional intelligence. I think Tony came in to heal just as much as he was helping us to heal.
“What is amazing — even in his death he remembered us,” Thomas added.
One of Tony’s last wishes was for his family and friends to donate to San Quentin News or the NV Farmworker Fund (an account dedicated to the needs of Napa Valley migrant farmworkers and Napa County farmworker housing). Tony’s call for support for SQNews raised more than $4,000.
Over the course of Tony’s 88 years, he provided a lifetime of service. He served as a St. Helena Planning Commissioner and was elected to the St. Helena City Council. He also served two years as a Grand Juror, according to his obituary. In 2002, Tony was awarded Commissioner of the Year for the Northern District. He served 11 years on the Napa County Planning Commission.
Tony was an advocate for affordable housing and for the preservation of the rural nature of Napa Valley.
He graduated from Stanford University and was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He earned a living selling paper, stocks, and real estate, but what made him rich was all of his other work, according to his loved ones.
“Tony was a sweet soul who greeted you with twinkly eyes and a smile that caused a boomerang effect. Tony was a voracious reader of history and lover of comic strips, a terrible driver who preferred a road trip, a bonsai gardener, a questionable dresser, a man who hated swimming but was joyful in the ocean,” read his memorial.
“A guest who was delighted by each home cooked meal placed in front of him, a clever punster, and, a champion for the underdog. Tony loved all things musical despite his lack of rhythm or ability to remember a lyric. He had an indelible dance move that he picked up at one of the many Scottish Games that he dragged his family to,” said his family and friends with love. (QUESTION FROM AB: IS THIS A QUOTE FROM THE SAME MEMORIAL QUOTED ABOVE? IF SO, CHANGE TO “HIS FAMILY FRIENDS TOLD [NAME OF THE PUBLICATION] WITH LOVE.”)
Tony was affectionately known as Tojo by his grandchildren. He was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, on July 14 1933, where he spent his days on Ripshin Mountain looking for adventure. In 1948, his family moved across the country to Rancho Santa Fe, California. He attended San Dieguito High. As a youth, he spent his summers working at the Del Mar Racetrack and as a lifeguard at Del Mar Beach, said his memorial.
Tony died suddenly in Hawaii after a beachside lunch with some special friends. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, his children and grandchildren. The service was held Nov. 5 at St. Helena Catholic Church.
“Tony was free — an outside volunteer — but to the incarcerated he was one of us. He saw past our prison blues. He shared the healing circle with us. He gave as we gave. We will miss his smile, caring spirit, and love. Thanks for being our “Brother,” said SQNews Editor in Chief, Marcus Henderson.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. In the spirit of Tony, we will continue the work of healing and empathy.”
All of us at SQNews