Holtzman mourns passing of mentor | PostIndependent.com

Holtzman mourns passing of mentor

Zoned out in front of his TV in 1976, playing the role of a politically apathetic teenager, Marc Holtzman of Mission Heights found a role model whom he would look up to for the rest of his life.

Holtzman is the president of the University of Denver and a former businessman and member of Gov. Bill Owens’ cabinet. He considers former President Ronald Reagan one of the most inspiring and motivating leaders in our country.

Reagan, the 40th president, died June 5 at age 93.

“He just has this incredible ability to motivate and inspire hope and growth,” said Holtzman. “He makes people feel good about themselves.”

Before Holtzman watched the speech he had no interest in politics. His parents were liberal Democrats and supported an ideology he didn’t identify with.

After the speech Holtzman began writing letters to Reagan, and after completing his freshman year of college in 1979, he took two years off to join Reagan’s campaign for president.

Holtzman felt Reagan had a commonsense approach to government and wholeheartedly supported the idea that the U.S. should be a bulwark for freedom and democracy.

Reagan won in 1981 and two weeks before Reagan was sworn into office, he had a little one-on-one talk with Holtzman, who still hadn’t returned to school.

“Nancy and I are really proud of the job you’ve done,” Reagan told him. “You can do anything you want for us but first you have to finish school.”

“This was typical of him,” Holtzman said. “I felt very touched and honored when he told me this.”

Holtzman kept in touch with Reagan until 1996, when Reagan’s memory was greatly affected by Alzheimer’s.

“I considered going to his funeral,” Holtzman said. “But I wanted to mourn him in my own way.”

One phrase Reagan frequently used sticks out in Holtzman’s mind:

“A true leader will make something that’s unpopular become popular if it’s in the public interest.”

Holtzman said a modern-day leader who lives by this philosophy is President Bush.

Bush, like Reagan, takes bold steps to support unpopular ideas, like the war in Iraq, because they’re in the public’s best interest, Holtzman said.

“Reagan was the same person in private as he is in public,” Holtzman said. “Bush is the same way, and that’s rare of today’s leaders.”

Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534


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