ORLANDO, FL — It is with heavy hearts that the family of legendary football coach, Lou Holtz, announce the passing of his beloved wife and philanthropist, Beth Barcus Holtz. Beth passed away from complications due to prior years of cancer treatment at the age of 82.
Beth’s resilience, philanthropy and commitment to her faith amazed the family as she fought cancer in 1997 and again in 1999. Her strength and courage inspired people and influenced Coach Holtz to always lead with a positive approach.
Mrs. Holtz has been recognized over the years for her tireless dedication to causes that reflect her interests and care for others, including No One Dies Alone and the Holtz Family Foundation.
On September 16, 2008, The Notre Dame Monogram Club presented an honorary monogram to recognize her service to others supporting the club’s mission to honor community, legacy, service, diversity and excellence.
In New York City on November 18, 2010, to honor Coach at the “Lou Holtz Coach For Life” reception and dinner, Beth expressed her love and humor:
“What a marvelous and exciting adventure God has given me: to live with the heartfelt love and support from and for Lou for more than forty-nine years. I have seen and felt the great joy from the thousands of lives he has touched in so many positive ways. Yet, he remains a humble man of integrity, who prompts me to enjoy life more with his well-known sense of humor. Hopefully, he will now give me a long-term contract instead of an annual renewal.”
— Beth Holtz
Born to Eleanor Josephine (Czech) Barcus and John Campbell Barcus on March 29, 1938, Beth was raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. It was there that she met her future husband and partner for life.
Beth and Coach Holtz were married July 22, 1961 in East Liverpool, Ohio at Saint Ann Roman Catholic Church.
Together, Coach Holtz and Beth embarked on an incredible life that started in Iowa. Beth has faithfully been her husband’s greatest supporter and he was hers.
In 1966, a few weeks after giving birth to their third child, Beth returned to work as an X-ray technician after Coach’s assistant position in South Carolina ended. To their surprise, the head coach who hired him, left for the Canadian Football League. The news came shortly after purchasing their first house. To keep her husband motivated and boost his spirits, she bought him a book by David J. Schwartz,
The Magic of Thinking Big. She had no idea how that book would ignite a life with Coach Holtz to include a National Championship, multiple bowl games, meeting U.S. Presidents and two popes and traveling the world.
Beth had a career of her own. She was an entrepreneur and founded The Tennis Hog Pro Shop in the late 1970’s and grew the business before selling it in the 1980’s
Beth worked with Coach Holtz to create the Holtz Charitable Foundation in 1998. The foundation promotes Christianity, education and charity with several grants awarded to non-profit organizations supporting the foundation’s mission. Trade scholarships, juvenile diabetes, Universities, homeless centers and Christian ministries have benefited from their generosity.
In December 2003, the homeless shelter in Columbia, South Carolina, was named after Lou and Beth Holtz. High school seniors in her hometown of East Liverpool have been awarded annual life improvement scholarships through the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. Beth always held a special connection to the communities that she once called home.
Beth became a research ambassador with her husband for the University of Notre Dame in 2011. In this role she raised awareness of the importance to pursue research with the focus to “heal, unify and enlighten a world deeply in need.” Cancer research was a particular focus. She was given a five-percent chance of survival from a rare form of cancer in 1997. She later shared that a strong commitment to her faith and the incredible support of her family made her recovery possible.
The aftermath of 83 radiations to treat throat cancer left Beth with a deteriorated and unrepairable lining of her throat and esophagus. Despite the significant daily challenges this presented, she remained actively dedicated to the causes that touched her heart. On October 19, 2019, she was honored with the Ladies Leaving Legacies Award presented by the Leaving Legacies Foundation supporting the Pediatric Ear, Nose, Throat & Audiology at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando for her philanthropy and charitable service.
Beth has been dedicated to and active in her faith throughout her life. Not only from the charitable efforts she actively engaged in but also in how she lived her life. She attended Mass regularly at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church. Her daily bible studies took place in a prayer room that was central to the design of their home, reaffirming the strength of her family centered on a deep commitment to her faith.
This enduring commitment in faith, provided a significant bond in Beth and Lou’s nearly 60 year marriage. When Coach would travel, wherever he went, at 10:00 p.m. each night they would both look out the window into the night with wonder and awe, thinking “My soul is in the sky” — William Shakespeare. Beth was Lou’s soul and he was hers.
Beth and Coach Holtz have resided in Orlando, Florida. She is survived by her husband; their children Luanne (Terry) Altenbaumer, Skip (Jennifer) Holtz, Kevin (Kelly) Holtz and Elizabeth (Michael) Messaglia and nine grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way.