Obituary: Peter Lawrence Holzmeister

Peter Lawrence Holzmeister
Peter Lawrence Holzmeister
Provided Photo

May 23, 1945 – August 9, 2023

Peter Lawrence Holzmeister, 78, of Reno, Nevada, passed away in his home on August 9, 2023. Debi Black, his wife of 30 years, was by his side. All five of his children and many of his grandchildren were with him in his final days.

Peter was born in Hartford, Connecticut to the late Lawrence and Mary (Brady) Holzmeister on May 23, 1945. Peter was raised in Hartford with his three sisters, Judith Knox (George) of Andover, Connecticut, Nancy Puffe (Forster) of Smyrna, Georgia, Laura Prasnal (Andrew) of Holbrook, Massachusetts. He loved his sisters and their husbands so very much. Peter was an altar boy at St. Augustine Church, a Boy Scout and a Civil War enthusiast. Peter attended St. Augustine Grammar School and Bulkeley High School, where he earned the title of Connecticut State High School Cross Country Champion in 1963. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut. Peter and his college roommates made several trips to New York City to enjoy jazz clubs – and they wouldn’t miss the Newport Jazz Festivals.

Following University, Peter enlisted in the Army in September 1968. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and received the Sharpshooter (M-16 rifle) badge. He achieved the rank of Sergeant while stationed at the Nevada Test Site, Mercury, Nevada. This is where he began a lifelong love of the desert. Following separation from the Army in June 1971, he married and moved back to Hartford, where he worked for the Connecticut Expenditure Council and completed his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Hartford. Peter and his first wife, Peggy (Gifford) Horner of Washington, Utah, had two of their three children while in Connecticut – Laurie Satmary (Mike, predeceased) of Reno, Nevada, and Carrie Stimpson (Greg) of Sparks, Nevada. Peter served as the Assistant Town Manager of Wilmington, Massachusetts from 1974 to 1978. His son Damian Holzmeister of Reno, Nevada, was born in Massachusetts. Peter was the Borough Manager of Grove City, Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1984.

In 1984, Peter accepted the position of General Manager of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, in Truckee, California. He remained in this position until his retirement in 2007. While in Truckee he met his future wife, Debi Black. They married in 1993 in Squaw Valley, California. His family grew to include her two children, Corey Ray (Janet) of Grass Valley, California and Kimberlee Charles (Chris) of Reno, Nevada. In 2019, Peter and Debi moved to Reno, Nevada.

Peter was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Truckee, a member of the Board of Governors of the California Municipal Utilities Association from 1997 – 2003, a member of the Board of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce from 2000 – 2007, where he served as Chair from 2004 – 2005. He valued serving his community.

He considered himself to be a Zen Catholic, guided by the teachings of Thomas Merton. The Nuns of the Carmelite Monastery in Reno were so important to his spiritual journey, and he supported their ministry through purchasing beautiful artworks, music and cards from their print shop. Peter went on several retreats to the Abby of New Clairvaux – a Trappist monastery in Vina, California and the New Camaldoli Hermitage, a monastery in Big Sur. He found comfort in the sermons of Father Bob Chorey, both while attending Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church and on YouTube.

Peter loved traveling with Debi to Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. After retirement they and their Scotties – Dylan and Kato – vacationed in their much-loved RV traveling to every contiguous state in the Union except North Dakota. His favorite memories included prepping for and participating in the Tour de Tahoe with friends from TDPUD, a trip to Cordova, Alaska with friends Bob Quinn and Ed Taylor, annual trips to Maui and Silver Strand Beach with Debi, hosted by Rita and Ralph Black, visits with his sisters Judy, Nancy and Laura in Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and camping and cruises with family and friends. He cherished trips to the coast – Big Sur, Pismo Beach and the Lost Coast, in particular. Above all, Peter loved being with his five children, eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was so proud of them all.

In 2016, Peter was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia – a rare nervous system syndrome that affects a person’s ability to communicate. He was treated at both Stanford University and UC San Francisco. Peter took part in many clinical research trials through the University of Texas at Austin and UCSF Weil Institute for Neurosciences. He chose to donate his nervous system tissue following death to UCSF NDBB whose goal is to advance the understanding of neurodegenerative disease by performing comprehensive neuropathological characterization of patients who participated in clinical research during life. His tissue will be shared with leading investigators worldwide.

The family would like to thank Dr. Carolyn Fredericks, Neurologist, formerly at Stanford University, Dr. Mike Erkkinen, Neurologist, UC San Francisco Health, Dr. Reini Jensen of Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics and Dr. Debra Fredericks of Integrated Behavioral Healthcare, for their excellent care of Peter over these past few years. He was in good hands. We also want to thank Dr. Illeana Deftu and the staff of Saint Mary’s Hospice. Everyone we met through Hospice provided him with gentle care in his last week. We are so grateful.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11am, Saturday, September 2, 2023, at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, 1138 Wright Street, Reno, Nevada, followed by burial at Masonic Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 437 Stoker Avenue, Reno. A reception will be held immediately following; directions will be provided at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Peter’s name to Carmel of Reno (,) or UCSF Institute for Neurogenerative Diseases

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