Bill Holzer, former Mt. Oliver councilman
June 22, 2004
Bill Holzer left Mount Oliver council almost 10 years ago, but the life-long borough resident remained active in the community until his death June 9.
Holzer, 82, passed away suddenly while on a trip to a race track/casino in Wheeling, W.Va. with several of his former council colleagues.
“Bill and his wife, along with my wife and I, we had just finished lunch and we were walking back to the casino when he had this seizure,” council president Marty Palma said. “He just sat down quietly put his head down and passed away. It was very sad.”
Palma, in his 39th year in public office, said Holzer helped him get acclimated to the job in his early years on council. That was also the case for Jean Miller who is in her 19th year on council. Miller said Bill Holzer remained very active in the borough during his post-council years.
“He would come to the senior citizen luncheons, our annual Easter egg hunt, our Halloween party, our dessert bingos and our Santa Claus party,” said Jean Miller. “He was there for all those activities helping out. Not being on council anymore didn't stop him for doing different things.”
Holzer served for 32 years on borough council. A World War II veteran, Holzer was active in the borough throughout his life.
During his three decades of public service, Holzer served as a deputy constable and committeeman. He also served on the borough recreation board of directors and ambulance service board. Holzer was one of the original members of the ambulance board when the Mount Oliver Ambulance subscription service was founded more than 22 years ago.
“He was still on our ambulance board,” Miller said. “Council took up a lot of his time and when he stepped down, he felt it was time to give some younger people an opportunity to serve the borough, but he still got involved in the community.”
As a member of council, Holzer was the chairman of the public works and public safety committees at various times throughout his long tenure.
He was also an active member of St. Joseph Church on Ormsby Ave. Although the church was not located within the boundaries of the borough, Holzer made sure parishioners had a way of safely getting to Mass in the winter when there was a snow-fall.
“Whether it was right or wrong, he would always make sure that the crew would go up there and throw some salt around near St. Joe's to help people who had difficulty getting up the hill to church,” Palma said. “That was something that he did as a service to the community since so many borough residents belonged to St. Joe's. He did little things like that for people.”
Holzer got a horseshoe-pitching court installed at Transverse Park more than 20 years ago.
“Him and Steve Rattay were the originators in getting the horseshoe club started,” Palma said. “He even brought in the clay and would pack it in the pits.”
“He still played horseshoes and we all played cards among our families and friends during the holidays,” Miller said. “He stopped going with our group trip to Atlantic City a couple years ago [due to minor health problems]. But he went with us every month to the dog track in Wheeling. He looked forward to those bus trips. He was still sharp as a tack. We all have good memories of him.”
Palma felt Holzer's low-key demeanor was an asset in getting things done for the borough.
“He always made sure we had a good police chief,” Palma said. “He worked well with Mayor [John] Smith who is in charge of the police department. He had a good rapport with our staff. He was also the vice-president of council for a term or two.”
Holzer was a member of Teamsters Union for 44 years after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. He was also a member of American Legion Post 540 and VFW Post 456. He is remembered for giving his time as a volunteer at the V.A. Hospital in Oakland.
Holzer is survived by his wife Mary and three daughters, two brothers, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Family and friends were received at Farnsworth Funeral Home for two days prior to his burial which took place June 14 following Holy Mass that was celebrated at St. Joseph Church.