Chris Lotz, age 88 passed peacefully from the arms of his earthly family to the arms of his Heavenly Father on Memorial Day evening in his home in Calimesa after just a few months of failing health due to complications of COPD and Emphysema.
Born in Woodside, New York to loving immigrant parents from Hungary, Christian Calvin Lotz Sr. and Alice Butler Lotz, his time with his parents was cut short when his devoted mother passed away when Chris was just 2 years old. Chris’s distraught father worked for Frank S. Buck of the “Bring e’m back Alive” traveling the world gathering exotic animals for Zoos around the world and knew he could not care for a little boy, so he left Chris in the care of his only sister, Catherine Becker, and her family to be raised in Long Island, New York. Chris was devoted to his Uncle Nick Becker and loved his 3 cousins. Chris attend Long Island Schools and at the age of 14, his father returned to “claim” his only son. It was a difficult time for Chris as he loved his family, but he also wanted to know what it would be like to have his “own Dad” around. The happiness was short lived as his dad was a very heavy drinker who never adjusted to losing his wife and they shared some very difficult times.
Chris got his first job working as a number’s runner in bars and pool halls. Chris was fascinated by the pool game and wanted to learn. One very nice patron got to know Chris and made him an offer. If you will quite running numbers and come to work for me and my family of 4 sons on my stable of training racehorses, I will teach you everything you need to know about horses and the game of pool as well. Chris never lost his love of racehorses and loved sharing the “starting gate and listen for the bell” with his current great loves, CJ age 5 and Wesley age 3, (great Grandpa’s boys!) With his devotion of becoming a pool player, Chris played in tournaments around the United States and Hawaii and up until the last 5 months of his life he was a current fixture at Yucaipa Billiards where he made many great friends. He really like it when the “young guys” would ask him for pointers on the games and how to improve.
When the call came for the war, he went down to his designated assignment to join the Army but next door was the Marine Corps office and as he tells it, the line to be a Marine was much shorter so he decided to go with the Marine’s which was a decision he never regretted. Serving his country during the Koren invasion he was outstanding on the Rifle range; won every Medal they had to offer and was pulled from the troop train leaving for overseas to come back and train new recruits on the Rifle Range. He believed his ability to focus on the target was learned mostly from his sharp pool game and the ability to keep his eye on the ball and where he wanted it to go. Lessons that he taught to both his sons starting at a very early age to respect rifles and play a fair game of pool!
After his Honorable Discharge from the Marine’s, in California, Chris worked as a Mail Man in Hollywood so he could continue his college education at night and ride his motorcycle all over the Hollywood hills with several movie stars and Roller Skating with great friends while living in a boarding house owned by the actress Nanette Fabre. Driving a friend to a job interview, he decided to apply as well. He was hired by Western Electric where he worked as a troubleshooter for 37 years while living in Glendale, and Chino.
Chris always felt that he had a good life, but nothing was as important to him as his 2 sons, Joel and Clay. Family was everything to him and he made the decision early on, to stop playing pool and focus all his non-working hours to his boys. He coached Little League, and soccer, assisted with Boy Scouts and swim teams. Everything he ever wanted was always focused on family and home. His favorite spot was at the head of the dinner table and listening to daily reviews of school, church and dead animals found on the way home from school. When the boys wanted to fish, a small boat and trailer (small trailer) was purchased to spend summers on the Colorado river fishing and swimming and winters on the Colorado river hiking, fishing and shooting guns and rifles.
Chris loved all animals and often talked about the dogs and cats that had passed on and would he have a van in heaven so that he could drive all around with the dogs heads out the windows. Many people in Calimesa knew his van well with Tucker his Golden Retriever 2 or 3 times a day going on drives so they wouldn’t get board just playing at home. Chris felt he lived in the best neighborhood with great neighbors and loved his time answering all the questions about all the geese on his front lawn.
Leaving behind to miss his ever-present smile and crazy stories are son’s Joel Lotz of Calimesa and Clay Lotz of Chino, best friend and wife Donna, brother in law Scott Okerson of Washington, Dino Scavone of Glendale, neighbors Charles & Misty Harris, CJ & Wesley, his next door adopted family. Chris had friendships that spanned over 80 years with his pool and roller-skating friends and he loved hearing from all of them.
Per his wishes, no funeral service will be held as he dedicated his body to research. His request will be honored, and a small service will be held at Riverside National Cemetery when his ashes are returned.
A “Memory Lunch” is planned for Saturday, June 29 at 11 am at Fascination Ranch in Calimesa for all friends, family and neighbors. All are welcome. Please contact the family or the Calimesa Chamber of Commerce office for directions 795.7612.