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June 2, 1937 – June 11, 2024

Artist, teacher and farmer Stan Holtz passed away June 11, 2024 at the age of 87, surrounded by his wife, son, and caregivers who will continue to treasure the time they shared with him. Stan endured a long struggle with lymphoma and dementia.

Stan was born in Placer County, California to Sheldon and Josephine Holtz, the first of three children, followed by his sister Nancy and brother John David. Stan spent his childhood in rural Placer County, near Lincoln, living on a fresh fruit farm where he and his siblings roamed free of supervision, playing with the children of their neighbors, the Mohammeds. Stan went to local elementary schools and Lincoln High School, where he played football, basketball, and ran track. Stan attended Sierra College in Rocklin and received his bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State University where he majored in Art. Stan’s favorite class was Ruth Rippon’s Ceramics class – throwing pottery came easily to him and ceramics became his life’s passion and career. At Sacramento State, Stan met Diana James in an education class. A romance ensued, and they married after graduation on December 31, 1961, spending the next 62 years together.

Stan earned a teaching credential from the University of the Pacific and taught junior high and high school art for several years. In 1969, he applied and was accepted into Washington State University’s (WSU) Master of Fine Art (MFA) program where he specialized in ceramics. His years at WSU saw him develop his technical skills and his own personal style of pottery. After receiving his MFA degree in 1971, he opened a studio called the Stoneware Pottery in the Treehouse art enclave on La Loma Avenue in Modesto. In 1977, he moved his studio to his home in Escalon where he also taught ceramics classes. Many of Stan’s students kept taking his class year after year, becoming some of his best friends. Festive potlucks were held to celebrate the firing of the pottery and the anxious anticipation of the opening of the kiln. Stan also taught drawing part time at Modesto Junior College for over 40 years where he influenced hundreds of students. In his ceramic studio, Stan developed his own unique style of stoneware with his own ash-based copper and iron glazes that made his ceramic pieces distinctive and unique. Stan’s stoneware was made in the high fire tradition (Cone 10 – 2,381 degrees Fahrenheit), primarily making functional ware. In 1984, he started making extruded box shapes that grew out of slab demonstrations as one direction seemed to suggest another with endless potential. Stan was an active member of the Association of Clay and Class Artists of CA, the Sacramento Potters Group, and the San Joaquin Potters Guild. Stan was a respected ceramic artist known statewide.

In 1976, Stan and Diana purchased a dilapidated but historic 1860s house and spent the majority of their lives together renovating and retrofitting a home built with handmade square nails and before electricity, water, and plumbing were used in homes. Stan’s artistic talents and creativity were used on many projects from building ceramic chimney caps and bathroom sinks to working with tile floors, cabinet tops, redwood moldings, painting, or laying brick.

After his father-in-law Leonard James passed away in 1988, Stan divided his time between pottery, teaching, renovating the old house, and farming the family’s almond orchards. Stan also loved to garden; growing tomatoes and onions in pest infested soil was a challenge he overcame with the help of his son Brent and his knowledge in plant pathology. Stan also enjoyed exercising and living a healthy lifestyle: running, riding his bike, or going to the gym and eating granola nearly every morning for most of his adult life.

Stan will be missed by his family and friends. Stan is survived by his wife Diana of Escalon, CA; sister Nancy Holtz of Auburn, CA; brother John David Holtz (Michelle) of Cottonwood, Arizona; son Brent Holtz (Natalie Saldou) of Modesto and San Francisco, CA; and grandchildren Benjamin and Nicholas Holtz.

A celebration of Stan’s life will take place later this year. Deegan’s Funeral Chapel in Escalon will feature Stan on their website The Holtz family wishes to thank the Community Hospice Foundation, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, CA 95356, 209-578-6370, In lieu of flowers the family suggests making a tax-deductible donation to Hospice.

The Escalon (Calif.) Times

June 26, 2024