A native of Marshfield, Wisconsin, Frederick J. “Fritz” Wenzel started his career at Marshfield Clinic in 1953 as the Director of Laboratories. A decade later, he was named the executive director of what is now Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. Fritz led the Research Institute until he was appointed the executive director of Marshfield Clinic in 1976, holding both titles for one year after taking on the new position.
During his career at the Health System, Fritz was credited with many achievements, including establishing a physician outreach program, creating the Clinic’s first regional center in Greenwood, taking control of the Greater Marshfield Community Health Plan, now known as Security Health Plan, establishing the Family Health Center and building the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. He retired from the Clinic in 1993 but has stayed closely connected to the organization. He stepped in to serve as interim Marshfield Clinic Research Institute director from November 2015 to July 2017, and served as a member of the Marshfield Clinic Health System board of directors until 2023.
Teaching and education has always been Fritz’s passion. He was a member of the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota and was co-founder of the university's healthcare management MBA program, as well as a visiting professor at the College of Business, University of Colorado, Denver. He also served on number of boards throughout the country, including the Health Quality Partners, the Fairview Physician Associates and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation. He's written books and authored or co-authored more than 100 publications.
In 2013, Fritz was honored by Marshfield Clinic’s Heritage Foundation as an individual who has made significant contributions to the community in government, civic leadership, education, medicine, law or business. He and his wife, Mary Ann, also received the Legacy of Philanthropy Award through Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation in 2015.
Fritz and his wife Mary Ann enjoyed 60 years of marriage, raised six successful children, and enjoyed time with ten grandchildren. Mary Ann passed away in 2013 and is missed by all those who knew her.
The Wenzels’ first gift to the Clinic was in 1974 to support the Research Institute. Their family’s generosity continues today, supporting projects like the Summer Student Research Internship Program, Auction of Champions gala, capital building campaigns and the endowment of the Fritz Wenzel Science Conference. Fritz and his son Tom Wenzel also made a $250,000 donation to establish the Mary Ann Wenzel Nursing Scholar Award. In 2022, Tom donated $1 million to name the Research Institute’s Fritz Wenzel Center for Clinical Research in honor of his father.
“Having worked with Fritz when he served as the interim director of the Research Institute, his commitment to more full integration of research into the Health System’s mission was evident every day,” said Jennifer Meece, Ph.D., current Research Institute director. “He continually advocated with leadership the importance of the Research Institute in making our system of care different and better.”
In addition to staying active with health care, research and education causes, Fritz enjoys spending time with his family and traveling. While he might not do as much mountain climbing these days, he can still be found sailing around Lake Mendota.