Photography 05

Paul Holzer, Jr.

September 22, 1978 ~ July 31, 2021 (age 42)


Paul Holzer, Jr.       

    An exuberant lover of life, and deeply devoted lover of his husband Matthew, Paul spent the last week of his life with Matt relaxing at the beach. Just days later he fell ill, was diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant brain tumor, and died following emergency surgery. His final act of grace gave some measure of peace, as close family and friends surrounded him on the Walk of Life, fulfilling Paul’s wish to be an organ donor.

            Paul was an artist. Down to every cell of his being he saw and moved through the world seeing beauty. Paul was a teacher. His own education began as a student of Delone Catholic High School, then at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he received a BA, and on to achieve his Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from Marywood University. He focused his professional art career on Visual Design at local Advertising and Marketing agencies and worked as a Senior Visual Designer for nearly 14 years at Phoenix Contact in Middletown, PA. Paul was a mentor. He was an ongoing Adjunct Professor of Graphic and Web Design at Harrisburg University, HACC, Grand Canyon University, PCAD, and Rasmussen University. He was a member of the Mechanicsburg Art Center, Hershey Area Art Association, the PA Guild of Craftsmen, Harrisburg Art Association, the York Art Association and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. But Paul was not content to be defined by the jobs he held, rather by the “work” of his beautifully lived life.

            Paul’s love of art informed every choice he made but it was an exuberant, gleeful and abundant curiosity that drove his bus. His dream of being a full time artist had recently been realized and in the far too short time he was given to revel in that achievement and create in his studio he made brushes and clay and woodchips fly. As a teacher himself, Paul never stopped learning. He had literally flung open the doors to take his love of painting “en plein aire”, was challenging himself to push beyond his already well established artistic disciplines as a photographer and potter. His love of interior design was free to build and fashion new spaces. He was living the dream. 

Paul was that person who leaves everyone feeling as if they were his best friend. He shared his authentic kindness and compassion both openly, genuinely and generously. His zest for living walked side by side with his fully tilted and raucous love to laugh. Kayaking, biking, fishing, and the love of travel kept those fun loving friends by his side and on their toes. Walking the trails at Lake Pinchot with his beloved Bernese Mt. Dogs, Quinn and Hudson awakened his love of all things in nature. While his toes were dancing and singing his love of music drove the beat. He liked nothing more than to sit around the fire pit, listening to Bing Crosby or riding along a country road in his jeep with the top off, listening to the Indigo Girls. He grabbed every morsel of living in this world with the enthusiasm of a brand new puppy and he took us all along for that joyously brilliant ride.  

            No superlatives here could measure up to the power of Paul’s relentless choices to live and to love. And at the very center of the core of the heartbeat of that love was his husband Matt. All of Paul’s wanderlust, the cacophony of energy, the creative fire in his soul, the light in those radiant eyes … it all came to a profound and gentle landing with Matt. They fiercely and fathomlessly swam through 8 years of bliss together and everyone they touched was schooled. Their love for each other was a masterclass.

            Their home they made atop the ridge, at one with the forest of trees and animals, is a quiet and restful nesting place they made together for that love. Paul knew peace.

            Left in the wake of his glorious life are…

            Husband Matthew W. Shellhammer, daughter Ashlyn Hess (Toby Hess) and grandson Riley, their pups Rosie, Quinn and Hudson. Parents Stephanie and Paul Holzer Sr., Siblings Monique Holzer (Mark Mullen), Christopher Thude (Lisa Thude), Krystal Robinson (Mike Robinson). Neices and nephews Alexis Arthur (Mike Franz), Anthony Mullen, Wayne Mullen, Miles Robinson, Kennedy Robinson, Charlie Thude.

            Mother-in-law Judy Shellhammer, Sister-in-law Tracey Smith (Matthew Smith), nephew Micah and niece Freya.

            Preceded in death by Father-in-law David Shellhammer and Grandparents. 

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the GoFundMe link designed to provide a future scholarship in Paul’s name.  

Paul Holzer Jr. Memorial Scholarship Foundation GoFundMe  -

            Further information and inspiration can be found at Paul’s website  -

            A celebration of his life will be held on September 25, 2021 from 1-5 pm at Gifford Pinchot State the Quaker Race Day Use Area.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Paul Holzer, Jr., please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
September 25, 2021

1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Gifford Pinchot State Park
2200 Rosstown Road
Lewisberry, PA 17339

Please note
Please go to the Quaker Race Day Use Area
© 2021 Cocklin Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy