"After all, a ghost is only a fellow human being in trouble"
When trying to narrow down just one of these people, I've found that my age (I'm 30) does actually play a large role in who I would say I admire. Well, my age....but also the fact that I have been studying and researching ghosts, apparitions, and all things spooky since I could talk, plays a role as well. Many people, especially younger folks, who have began exploring their interests in the paranormal after 2004 will undoubtedly tick off a list of para-celebrities as their top influences in this field, and while I have nothing against anyone who has their own show, I can't say that I'm necessarily influenced by someone who is my contemporary....but just got lucky enough to be on TV. The best way I can explain this would be to quote a line from Bob's Burgers in which Torpedo advises Bob on his choice of role models: "Little bit of advice, Bob. If you want a role model, choose an old guy. By he tie you're grown up they're dead."
So, I chose someone who is no longer with us, but played a role in my early paranormal education, Hans Holzer. Hans Holzer obviously has had his flaws, and he's no stranger to controversy, but to me, he wa one of the pioneers.
I was introduced to Hans Holzer's large library of work as soon as I could read, almost. My grandparents had a few of his books, and then later on, my mom brought me home another from the high school library where she worked. Today, I only have 14 out of well over 100 different titles, but Holzer remains a large influence in my life. In fact, he was the first parapsychologist I ever heard of, and was the inspiration for my own career goal of becoming a parapsychologist (which for you younger readers, was the accepted term over ghost hunter or paranormal investigator at the time).
Hans Holzer was born on January 26, 1920 in Vienna, Austria. As a young man, he studied archaeology and ancient history, but like myself, had his interest in the paranormal sparked by a family member. Unfortunately, the threat of Nazi invasion caused the family to doubt their safety, so in 1938, they moved to New York. In the 1950s, Holzer became involved heavily with theater before returning to higher education. After going on to pursue a parapsychology degree, Holzer taught classes at the New York Institute of Technology.
He married in 1962, and today, his daughter Alexandra has taken over the ghosting business, and has made a name for herself in this field.
One of Hans' most famous cases, despite its connections with the Warrens, was actually the Amityville Horror case. It was his work with medium Ethel Johnson-Meyers that yielded the theory that the home was built on a Native American burial grounds, which revolved around facts later debunked by the local historical society. His first book, Ghost Hunter, was published in 1963, and although the term "ghost hunter" had been used as early as 1936, many claim that this was the book that brought it into mainstream vocabulary.
Hans Holzer died in New York in 2009. He was a vegan, a Wiccan high priest, and a supporter of reincarnation, himself believing he had fought in the 1692 Battle of Glencoe.
Hans Holzer, while not the only "paranormal investigator" of his time, was definitely one of the most vocal, most published, and certainly an individual not afraid of going against popular opinion. His research has paved the way for a new generation of paranormal researchers to build upon and approve. He was an educated man, but chose not to limit his mind just to "accepted" science. As the opening quote infers, he's one of the first to really give a human personality to what we would call "ghosts," and is an attitude embraced by most of the community still to this day. And that is why I admire Hans Holzer!
New York Times Death Notice
*Theresa's Silly Note: Have you ever seen the movie, Summer School, with Mark Harmon? It used to be my all-time favorite movie, so it took all my strength from taking this blog in another direction...like when the class had to write an essay on the person they admire most and Denise wrote about the person she admired the least, and then went off on a diatribe about her boyfriend, Andre!*