Remembering Schultzie

On the Monday night after Tim Langholz died, a group of friends and family gathered to share wonderful stories and remember Tim. Nettie asked me to compose a sort of distillation of those stories to read at his Memorial Service.

If to “delight” means to bring out the light inside something, then Tim Langholz delighted in us all. On the one hand, Schultzie could comfort us with the most delicate tenderness, until a little light finally broke through. And on the other hand, with impish glee, he could push us sharply out of our comfort zones when he saw we needed a little shaking up. His delight by turns deflated and expanded us, and his repetroire was contradictory and huge. It included beauty and crassness, logic and whimsy, bluntness and indirection, sweetness and sarcasm, and he used them all to show us the light he saw in us and keep us living in the largest of worlds.

He was ready to do anything for anybody at the drop of a hat, almost as if he had been waiting all along so he could do that one particular favor, and he did it in such a way that you never hesitated to ask again, and again. The happiness of others really was what he lived for. His brother Joel tells how, just moments after his daughter Maria was born, with uncanny prescience Tim seemed to just appear out of nowhere, though no one had told him. There are so many moving stories—like moving Brad to Madison, moving Eduardo to San Diego (with a mandatory stop in Vegas), moving Becky and Scott—more than once—so much moving. With each move, Tim turned one of the most stressful jobs imaginable into a comic adventure.

And Schultzie would pack his van with people for hilarious road trips, whether spontaneous junkets to Harper’s Ferry or Prairie du Chien to hear Joe Price, or long rides to Louisiana for Mardi Gras. It was on one of those long rides south that painfully bashful Tim pushed out of his own comfort zone far enough to begin what became the most deeply significant relationship of his life—with his exceptional Nettie.

Schultzie would take pieces of his remarkable pottery out into nature, finding places where they seemed to belong, and leave them there—for whom? With Tim, all the normal, adult lines blurred—the lines between art and life, work and play. How else could he fill our lives with pink shrink-wrapped saunas and backyard igloos—zany magic that he labored hard to create just to see our eyes light up? He made us children again, and yet spoke with children like they were adults, taking them seriously even as he defended their innocence and fed their imaginations. This trait of course helped make him the most extraordinary of fathers for his beautiful Ruby.

Yet Tim, for all his play, was a serious man. His incisive intelligence was always working. You could tell he was sharing only a fraction of what he was thinking, but you were glad for every scrap. He would speak out against injustices others might ignore, or even fail to see, and occasionally he found it difficult to stand down. He was not the kind of guy who could let go easily.

Frequently, when the fun was just reaching its peak, we would suddenly realize that Tim was no longer anywhere to be found. He had delighted in us and then just left us quietly to shine on our own. Now he has slipped off again without a word, but as long as we cling to each other, as long as we shine like he taught us to, he will continue to delight in us and never let us go.