Fran Fruzen has devoted his life to education and community service
Family: Marilyn, wife of 57 years; adult daughter, Cathy Mueller, Mequon; two great-grandchildren.
Favorite hobby: Plant and vegetable gardening
Last book read: "Our Own Iceberg is Melting," by John Kotter.
Favorite music: From country to the classics
Past volunteerism: Stateline United Givers, Wisconsin Teacher Credit Union, Beloit Chapter of the American Red Cross, Beloit Inner City Council, St. Jude Pastoral Council, Greater Beloit Alliance for Drug-Free Community, Youthful Offender Addiction Interventions Program, Badger Council Girl Scouts, Greater Beloit Community United Way, Girl Dynamics, Beloit Education Center, Stateline United Way, Beloit Voluntary Action Committee, City of Beloit Complete Count (Census 2000) Committee, Beloit Stateline Golden K Kiwanis, Wisconsin Aviation Academy.
Current volunteerism: City of Beloit Substance Abuse Committee, Beloit Safe Communities Coalition and City of Beloit Census Committee.
Three words that best describe him: Determined, optimistic, perseverance.
-- A Green Bay native, he played high school football on the same field—Green Bay City Stadium—the Packers did in the 1940s.
-- His education/political involvement gave him the opportunity to work with political powerhouses such as President John F. Kennedy, Wisconsin Gov. Martin Schreiber, Nixon assistant H.R. Haldeman and U.S. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.
-- Fruzen played a major role through his leadership in education during the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s in Beloit and Wisconsin.
-- He was appointed, in the 1970s by the sate superintendent of public instruction to serve as a member of the task force to review and update educational goals for Wisconsin. He also was appointed by the governor and served as a commissioner to the Education Commission of the States and invited to Washington, D.C., and the Department of Labor to speak on the development and function of youth employment training programs.
BELOIT The papers that Fran Fruzen needs for his work and community involvement are held by magnets on file cabinets, thumb tacks on bulletin boards, in three-ring binders stacked on bookcase shelves and piled on the furniture near his office desk in the Kolak Education Center of the Roosevelt Building, 1633 Keeler Ave.
They contain important information about his position as coordinator of the Safe & Drug-Free Schools Program for the Beloit School District, as administrator of Beloit Schools Even Start Family Literacy and as founder of the Beloit Memorial High School Alumni Services and Beloit Memorial High School Alumni Hall of Fame, plus his involvement in Rock County Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol/Partners in Prevention.
That's why Fruzen is "Mr. Beloit."
"There's really no one in Beloit that doesn't know Fran Fruzen, either from being a student or being involved in the community," said Debbie Fischer, director of Rock County Youth2Youth.
Fruzen has been part of the local coalition for 12 years and became its chairman last year. His involvement brings respect to the group, Fisher said.
"He's has a wealth of knowledge and a true commitment to substance abuse and youth. It's all about making a difference, and Fran's about making a difference," she said.
Fischer said Fruzen is passionate about his causes.
"When Fran says he'll stand behind something, he's totally committed to it," she said.
Fischer calls Fruzen "amazing."
"When you know Fran, he knows you. He makes you feel special. He makes you feel unique. He makes you feel important," she said.
Fruzen has devoted 57 years to education—55 of them in the Beloit School District.
"That's a lifetime," he said. "I'm getting great-grandkids of my (former) students."
Fruzen has always embraced change.
"That's made me active in the things I'm doing,"' he said.
Fruzen became interested in drug and alcohol programming when it emerged in the late 1980s as a significant issue in education, and he was named the 2010 Outstanding Adult Prevention Volunteer at the Wisconsin State Prevention Conference last June.
Partners in Prevention Rock County coalition members and Rock County Youth2Youth nominated him for the honor.
"Fran brings a world of knowledge of youth, how they work, how they operate, how they think, and then there's the whole prevention universe he knows everything about," said Kate Baldwin, PIP executive director.
Fruzen, considered the grandfather of positive youth development prevention in Beloit, serves on PIP's board and is past president.
"He's always connecting us with something wider than our own community," Baldwin said.
Fruzen, who approaches work as a privilege after growing up during the Depression and choosing to devote his life to helping youth, said he will retire at the end of this school year.
"I made sure I was a caring, concerned adult for the kids who didn't have anyone else to advocate for them," he said.