Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Max A. Holshouser, Designer and Builder of Decks, Stone Patios, and Other Projects Large and Small, Part 3 of 3


I have been showcasing my husband Max Holshouser’s talents for the last two installments of this well deserved tribute! Max is a quiet man who would never tout  his own horn. Therefore it is easy to overlook what an amazing talent he is! Having been married to him 43 years, and having this forum to write about ancestors, and ancestors to be, gave me the idea to record some of Max’s accomplishments for his own descendants, and current friends and family as well! He is a doer, he quietly goes about honing his crafts and artistry. 

One of the many incredible things I’ve seen Max do is make a cross for children to put flowers on to celebrate Easter. When my sister Anne Prince retired, after teaching 4th grade for 33 years at Saint Christopher’s, a private boys’ Episcopal School in Richmond, Virginia,  she wanted to leave a special gift for the lower school.  She commissioned Max to make a cross that the children could “flower”. I had never seen such a cross! It had many holes drilled into  it so that the children could place the stems of their flowers in the cross. There were enough holes for all the children ages 5 to 12  to reach and use. After flowering the cross,  in a chapel service, it is rolled out to the entrance  of the school for display.   The service was one very meaningful to the whole school! The cross opened so that it could be cleaned and cared for.  A small plaque explains that it is a gift from Anne Prince, what a treasure! 

Max made this cross to flower for Easter for Anne Prince.


The items Max has made are too numerous to feature all of them! However, this cradle that he made for his daughters to sleep in as infants, has held all of his grandchildren as well, and is truly special. Max designed it to function turned upside down as a cofee table, so that it is always in use!  Next to the cradle can be seen a very unique piece of furniture Max designed.  It is a porch table that we painted all one color, but it was made up of six triangle tables that fit together to make one big table, yet could be separated and used as individual tables!  We have used it for a long time, often in pieces scattered about as needed. Then there is the lovely shelf he made for Ali  our pianist and percussionist, with music notes cut into the side! Annie chose a LOVE shelf like the one featured in the first part of this series and it hangs in her home today. Liam is thrilled with his large name that hangs on the wall in his room, and the hockey stick that functions as a coat rack for him. The mantle is another extra effort that Max decided was needed so he designed and built one just for us. Beside the mantle you can see shelves covering one whole wall of the living room that Max made, using heart pine supports to match the heart pine mantle. 

Cradle made for Ali by Max in 1974, still in use  40 years later for grandchildren. Ali likes it. Mattress made by Brenda H. Goodman, Max's sister.DSCF9977 Max made, music shelf for Ali Liam sign made by Max for Liam Mantle Max is making for home in Youngsville DSCF7824DSCF0139


Before we could possibly finish a round up of the “projects by Max” exploration, we have to look at some of his large construction projects! Thankfully for the family, there have been many over the years, all of which have added pleasure, enjoyment, and beauty to our lives! Just look at this incredible craftsmanship!  

In 1974, we moved from an old Victorian to a small row house in Chesterfield County outside of Richmond, Virginia. We did that because we thought the county schools were better than the city schools and had a child getting ready to start school, Ali was 2! (planning ahead!). We chose a very modern redwood house, so different from the lovely old Victorian we had lived in for several years. There was no deck, nothing in fact, on the back of the house we had built.  Max set about to remedy that immediately, designing and building the incredible deck pictured below! Notice the detail if you will, I loved that deck! He made parquet floors, benches with backs, flower pots on the corners, and gracious steps leading down into the yard! We had many parties and family gatherings on that deck! Max’s attention to detail always amazes me! That’s Ali, age 2 sitting on the steps of the deck. 

DSCF0040 Deck on Watchsprings Ct. Deck with Ali on steps at Watch Springs Ct.


After moving to Raleigh, NC in 1980, cheering for the Wolfpack at NC State University and engaging in all of the volunteer work that a growing family gets involved in, we found ourselves at a crossroads for many reasons. In 1995, I got a new job in New Bern, North Carolina and we decided to move the family to the coast. We bought a house in the town of  Havelock, North Carolina as the mental health agency, where I was a psychotherapist, served 5 counties surrounding that area.  In Havelock, Annie started highschool and  Max took a job designing multi-million dollar bottle filling machines for a company called Aylward. At home, he decided to turn his skills from building us a custom-made breakfast nook table, to constructing from scratch, a stick-built shed. He constructed it pretty much all on his own, after designing it of course. He put in a ramp so that he could easily store the ride- on lawn mower! It’s fun to look back and see it come together in pictures! 

Home on Deerwoods Trail, havelock, NC, 1996-2000 Home in Havelock, NC DSCF0068 DSCF0072 DSCF0076 DSCF0082 DSCF0089 DSCF0092


The last of this chapter/tribute to Max’s artisanship, I want to show you where we live now in 2014, and have for the last ten years. We downsized from Havelock, 2350 sq. ft. to 1250 sq. ft! I had become sick with severe and chronic heart disease, and the kids were off -married for Ali and college for Annie, so it didn’t seem we needed much. We needed a one level house for me, back near Raleigh and the hospitals and medical centers where I was spending a lot of time those days.   Max had actually had to have open heart surgery as well, but he had his aortic valve fixed, whereas I was inoperable. So after recovery, Max was back in the game! Teaching at Wakefield High School nearby, Max found this house for us and we fell in love with our neighborhood and diverse neighbors! And I lived! The docs said maybe only five to eight years, max, but its been 15 years, and the blessings continue! Max and my daughters, friends and family who love and support us are a large reason I am still here and thriving! I had gotten so weak, I had to use a wheelchair to go far. But I used my wheelchair like a four-wheeler, running from front yard to back, and sliding out to garden, crawling back in to move again!  Max deserved a medal for helping me succeed! Among other things, he built a deck and ramp in the back yard that was artistic as well as functional! It served as a privacy fence surrounding our patio, so that we could have intimate alfresco dinners with friends!  We have loved it! I watched as Max built a small deck and bench onto the existing screened porch, then gaped as he actually soaked the wood, and curved it, to make a beautifully curved, gently descending ramp! At the bottom of the ramp, Max designed a circular patio that his lifelong friend, Tommy Wagoner, son of a stone mason and a stone artisan himself,  taught him how to build, and indeed, built it right along with him! Friends, now that is one golden one! They built borders, measured and scraped, poured gravel, leveled, laid cement, leveled, laid stone, leveled, so forth and so on…you can see the stunning result! They worked so very hard, and we have enjoyed the beauty for years now! Just last week,  Tommy and his wife Mary came to visit, and very soon Tommy could be seen walking intently around the patio, checking for cracking and upkeep! LOL  We’re being careful of your baby Tommy, Max respects the hard work as well as the joy! 

DSCF9982 DSCF9984 DSCF9986 DSCF9991 DSCF9995 DSCF0001 DSCF0005 DSCF0012 DSCF0009 DSCF0012 DSCF0018 DSCF0024 DSCF0038 DSCF0058 patio garden blooming with daylilies Patio with flowers, file pic front garden with tall liles front garden with iris 2




Author: Helen Holshouser

Old enough to enjoy life, I am a Red Hatter, grandmother, gardener, and amateur genealogist. I am a retired clinical psychologist, master's level, who is disabled with heart disease, but having fun with family and friends. Married over 40 years, I have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I have learned that grandchildren provide a joy one never knew existed---writing feeds my soul, gardening is therapy, and genealogy research makes me feel like a detective!

7 thoughts on “Max A. Holshouser, Designer and Builder of Decks, Stone Patios, and Other Projects Large and Small, Part 3 of 3

  1. This reminded me that my Dad, who died when I was 16, moved from one project to another. Need to get that documented. Thanks for an enjoyable read.


  2. Thank you Cathy, for staying with us. Yes, I’d love to read about your Dad. There are so many unrecognized artists/artisans out there, I’ve been thinking for awhile about writing a story of several!


  3. Pingback: Max Alexander Holshouser, Family Man and Extraordinary Craftsman–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #35 | Heart of a Southern Woman

  4. My dear cousin from many Trees – I truely believe you may be the most blessed woman on the face of the earth.  Wallow in it!! I adore you.


  5. You are too precious for words elizabeth Clements Mims! I think I may just do that exactly–wallow in it–my many blessings! LOL Love you! Helen


  6. What an amazing tribute for one amazing man!! Max, this old friend adores you and thought you deserved to meet (and later marry) an amazing, amazing woman, my college roomie, Helen!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just think my cherished friend Carol E. Winters, PhD, without you, there would be no us! I love you dearly! Tahnk you a million times over! helen


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