Former Fairfield teacher, firefighter who fought drunk driving dies at 78

Lew Hollinger, a former Fairfield teacher and firefighter, died recently. He was 78. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Lew Hollinger, a former Fairfield teacher and firefighter, died recently. He was 78. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Growing up, Lew Hollinger never sat still, so his grandparents nicknamed him “Buzz.”

The name stuck and he never outgrew that youthful drive and determination, his family said.

“He was always doing something,” said his sister-in-law, Marianne Halcomb. “He was always moving.”

Hollinger, a longtime Fairfield teacher, firefighter and advocate against drunk driving, died Jan. 14 at the Hospice Center of Hamilton. He was 78.

A 1959 graduate of Fairfield High School, Hollinger received his bachelor’s degree from Ashland University in 1964 and started a 30-year teaching career at Fairfield High School. While at FHS, he initiated the first Distributive Education (D.E.C.A.) Program, the first Occupational Work Experience (O.W.E.) Program and the first Students Against Drunk Driving (S.A.D.D.) Chapter.

He appeared before an Ohio State House Committee Hearing to request lowering the national legal alcohol level and he lobbied and presented on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Driving regarding driving drunk, alcohol levels and safety at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

He held numerous leadership positions with M.A.D.D., including two terms on the National Board. In 2000, he was presented with the Heart of M.A.D.D. award from the state organization and the National M.A.D.D. Difference Maker award.

Hollinger also served as a volunteer firefighter in Fairfield for many years, and he retired as a captain in the Fairfield Fire Department.

He was a board member of Crime Stoppers of Greater Cincinnati and helped raise funds to pay for anonymous tips.

In his spare time, he loved performing magic tricks, his family said.

He also taught Halcomb how to drive. When she took her driving test, she completed the parallel parking in 30 seconds, and since the instructor didn’t see her, she had to park again, she said.

“When I told him who taught me, the instructor said, ‘He was such a good teacher,’” Halcomb said.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Marta Calabria Hollinger, and daughter Gina Ann Hollinger, formerly of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon today at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 4601 Fairfield Ave., followed by the funeral service at noon.