Gerald Ted Holtzman (z’’l) died entirely too soon on Monday, January 8, 2018 in Houston.
He leaves behind on Earth his wife of 18 years, Staci Holtzman; his son Jed; his daughter Carrie and her fiancé Dave Gillespie; Staci’s son Jack and daughter Meredith, whom he raised like his own; big brother Alan and wife Jacqui; favorite nephew Aaric Eisenstein; loving ex-wife Casey; and too many close friends to list.
Born in Brooklyn on October 17, 1946, his parents David (z’’l) and Dora (z’’l) Holtzman moved him from Flatbush to Pittsburgh in early childhood, then on to Corpus Christi, where David had been stationed in the Navy. The family was almost a caricature of itself – filled with deep love, quick tempers, and an abundance of humor and yiddishkeit. Throughout his life, there was never any question that Gerald carried with him all the good qualities that could come from those Brooklyn roots.
David was a chemist, but anti-Semitism kept him from being able to find a job in his field, and he supported his family as a firefighter. Fighting against this kind of persecution imbued Gerald with a deep sense of justice, and throughout his life, both personally and professionally, he advocated passionately for those who were being treated unfairly.
It was in Corpus Christi that Gerald started selling women’s shoes at the age of 12, a job that he’d continue intermittently for over ten years and that provided a sheaf of classic Gerald stories. At W.B. Ray High School in Corpus, he was a star student and a tremendous athlete. Several of his track and field personal bests are still Texas state records. It’s hardly a surprise that he was recruited to attend Rice University.
At Rice, he continued his dominance in discus and shot put and filled shelves with trophies, in addition to getting up to pranks of cinematic magnitude that delighted on every retelling. He graduated in 1968 with outstanding marks, notwithstanding that infamous chemistry class….
After college, Gerald began law school at the University of Texas, during which it’s probably fair to say he was most proud of being known as Smoke Ring Holtzman, a title earned by sending fully coherent rings of cigarette smoke all the way from the back row down to the professor’s desk. In 1971, he married Casey Weil, a childhood friend from Corpus and mother of Jed and Carrie.
After law school, he began his long career as a practicing attorney at Fulbright & Jaworski, before opening the esteemed Holtzman & Urquhart law firm in 1977, where he remained in private practice for decades.
In 1999, he married the love of his life, Staci Flanagan, in a secret California beachside ceremony, before sharing the party with their family and friends four months later. Their love defied all odds and will continue through time. Staci also provided Gerald a second opportunity at parenthood, and he jumped into raising young Jack and Meredith with gusto.
Gerald closed his law firm in 2001, and began to work with one of his oldest friends, Kazie Metzger, and her husband John Harvey as counsel for Personalized Media Communications, an innovative intellectual property licensing company that was years ahead of its time. He became President of the company in 2014 and served avidly and actively in that role until his passing.
Gerald had a lifelong love of golf, playing devotedly from at least his college days. Much of that hallowed time for him was spent at Braeburn Country Club in Houston, where he would play 18 holes every Sunday morning and then another 18 with Casey in the afternoon, when women were allowed on the course. It’s quite apropos that he can see the greens of the course and the clubhouse from his final resting place. Later in life, he played regularly at Sweetwater with “the G-d squad,” a group of friends who would all squeal out of the parking lot of Sugar Land Baptist Church after Sunday services to get to the course ASAP.
Gerald was highly regarded in all his professional endeavors, named twice in the last few years by Intellectual Asset Management magazine as a “top-40 market maker” in the world. Just as regularly, he was recognized for his vibrant and powerful character. As colleague Gene Quinn said in a tribute, “Gerald was a good man, always straightforward. You always knew where Gerald stood on an issue. He was always quick with a compliment, but fiery in debate. His advocacy will be sorely missed, but more important he will be sorely missed.”
Gerald was a larger-than-life personality and loving husband, father, and friend. His family and friends are grieving his sudden passing and truly appreciate your love and support at this difficult time. Gerald’s birthday, 10/17, became in recent years a lucky number seen regularly out in the world by many in the family, and they will continue to find his presence in this symbol, as well as in their hearts.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to MD Anderson Cancer Center, earmarked for “Dr. Nizar Tannir’s Kidney Cancer Research” at 1155 Pressler St., Unit 1374, Room CPB7.3475; Houston, TX 77030.