With our Annual Membership Drive now in full swing we are humbled by the generosity and actions of our members and community. We recognize the power of collaboration at work here in Clark County to make our region brighter, greener and even healthier place now and well into the future.
Recently we had the honor of meeting Mr. Robert Holczer, a man who shares our passion for Southwest Washington’s parks, and specifically Salmon Creek Park. Now 87, Mr. Holczer has faced horrific experiences throughout his early life as a Budapest Jew during the 1940s. He lost his family, his home, his country, but survived to touch many lives throughout his career as a U.S. civics teacher in Germany and the U.S. He has dedicated his life to ensuring what happened in Budapest would not be forgotten and to making a difference wherever possible. Now Mr. Holczer leads a quiet life, working in his garden. “How can anyone live without flowers,” he says.
We met Robert Holczer in a roundabout way —students wanted to honor him, his wonderful stories and contributions to their lives with a bench at his favorite Clark County park, Salmon Creek Park. With a terminal cancer diagnosis Mr. Holczer’s time is now short and the bench needed to be expedited. Students from around the globe contributed to purchase the bench and they wanted to make sure Mr. Holczer had the opportunity to enjoy it.
Robert Holczer has had many dreams. A Jewish boy of 15 he dreamt of freedom, safety and peace. He survived the Siege of Budapest and Nazi occupation. Now in the fall season of his life, Mr. Holczer shared his dream with the Parks Foundation of seeing Vancouver’s Waterfront Park completed. However with his diagnosis that seemed impossible. He simply wanted to see what would mark the city he loves for generations to come.
After meeting Mr. Holczer we realized his dream could happen. So, spearheaded by Dianna Kretzschmar, a collaborative effort began to bring Mr. Holczer’s dream to life and allow him to see Vancouver’s newest park firsthand through the project manager’s eyes.
The tour day came. Mr. Holczer and Pat Jollota spent the better part of an hour talking history as they awaited the tour. The expression on Mr. Holczer’s face was one of awe as he listened to details of Vancouver’s Waterfront Development and walked the site. As the tour concluded he was presented with a bound book illustrating the finished park.
“Thank you so much for making an old man’s dream come true. I saw the park as it will be, and it is beautiful,” said Robert Holczer. Thank you Mr. Holczer for you have left us so moved by your story, your teaching, and your love for Clark County parks.
We invite you to honor Robert Holczer by becoming a Parks Foundation member and supporting the continuing work of making our parks, trails and recreational programs a greener, brighter, and even healthier place to bloom. To upgrade your Parks Foundation membership, or perhaps join for the first time, click here to quickly complete your membership online.
Thank you to the following community partners for making dreams a reality for Robert Holczer.
– Dan Holmquist
– Jeremy Kanooth, Clark County Parks & Recreation
– Joey and Mary Fuerstenberg, Vancouver Granite Works
– Julie Hannon, Vancouver Parks & Recreation
– RSV Construction Services
– Terry Murphy Interiors, LLC
– Pat Jollota, First Citizen and Clark County historian
– Ryan Hart, Port of Vancouver
– Graymor Development