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Hugo Rudolf Buchholz
January 15, 1928 ~ December 2, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old
Hugo Rudolf Buchholz passed away peacefully on December 2, 2023, in Sonoma, California, at the age of 95. He was a remarkable man who lived a life full of resilience, strength, and optimism.
He was born in Konstanz, Germany, on January 15, 1928, but he fled with his mother to Switzerland at eleven years old due to the turmoil of World War II. He was raised and educated in Zurich. Hugo was a skilled soccer player and he became a professional goalie for the Swiss soccer team Servette Geneva. However, due to several sport injuries, he retired from soccer. He learned the trade of journeyman painter at Malerei School on Lake Zurich from 1943 to 1947 and then worked in many fine villas and hotels in the area.
Hugo decided to travel to Canada, New York, and Mexico, with plans to go to South America. However, during his visit to San Francisco in 1958, Hugo met his future wife of 58 years, Gail Patricia Okray, at the Buena Vista Cafe. It was love at first sight and they got engaged on their third date. Gail said that she fell in love with his positive attitude and enthusiasm for life. He canceled his South America travel plans and they married on May 2, 1959, in Gail’s home state of Wisconsin, and they honeymooned in Europe.
In 1960, they settled in scenic San Francisco. They raised three children with countless pets including dogs, ducks, and rabbits in the city they loved. Later, they bought a weekend home in the town of Sonoma, where they enjoyed the warm weather, good wine, and their inviting garden. Many family occasions were celebrated in San Francisco and Sonoma, and those memories will always be treasured.
Being hard-working and highly motivated, Hugo became a successful painting contractor. His company, Buchholz Painting Inc., thrived in San Francisco for thirty years. Many San Francisco Victorians and stately homes were enhanced by Hugo’s color designs. Hugo and his wife Gail also enjoyed fixing up several homes in the city by the bay. They were a good team with Hugo’s painting expertise and Gail’s talent for home design.
The focus of Hugo’s life was his family, and he filled their home with love and happiness. He cherished every moment spent with them during weekends, holidays, and particularly memorable family vacations. Hugo played soccer and basketball with his children and he shared his love of health and fitness with them. He adored his six grandchildren and enjoyed watching them grow up and fulfilling their dreams and goals. His family and friends knew they could always count on Hugo’s kindness and generosity. He loved hosting parties with plenty of food, music, and dancing.
Later in life, Hugo’s passion for sports continued; he enjoyed running the hills of San Francisco and swimming in the San Francisco Bay. He ran several marathons and as a member of the Dolphin Club, he always looked forward to his daily swim in Aquatic Park Cove. Hugo also completed many of the challenging swims such as the Alcatraz to San Francisco swim and the Golden Gate Bridge swim.
Traveling brought Hugo much joy, and he looked forward to each trip. He spoke four languages, which was an asset when traveling in Europe. Among his journeys were exploring the Amazon, hiking to Machu Picchu, walking on the Great Wall of China, and going on safari in Africa. He traveled with the entire family to Europe, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. He truly lived life to the fullest, and his adventurous spirit was contagious.
Hugo will be missed for his zest for life, his big hugs, and his bright smile that could light up a room. His strength of character and his heart of gold will always be remembered, and his presence will be missed. Hugo’s story is one of love and perseverance and it will continue to inspire and warm the hearts of all who knew him.
Hugo is survived by his daughters Heidi Anne Ralph (husband Richard), Brigitt Marie Rogne (husband Benny), and son Hugo Alan Buchholz (wife Deidra). He will always be remembered by his grandchildren: Erik Rogne (wife Lauren), Markus Rogne, Celina Ralph, Darya Buchholz, Kyra Buchholz, and Aydan Buchholz. The love of his life, Gail Patricia, predeceased him on April 10, 2018.
A private family memorial service will be held on January 19, 2024, at Duggan’s Mission Chapel and Mountain Cemetery in Sonoma, California. In Hugo's memory, donations to the Dolphin Club, San Francisco, are welcome.