Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on December 3, 1997
Note: Walter Frautschi's class year is based on information in the 1920 Tyhcoberahn, for which he served as editor.
Walter Frautschi, Longtime Civic Leader, Dies at 95
By Jerry Ambling
Walter A. Frautschi, longtime businessman, civic leader and Madison area benefactor, died today.
He was 95 and had been ill for several weeks following a heart incident, an aide at his Webcrafters firm said today.
Mr. Frautschi, who headed the family's hugely successful Webcrafters Inc. printing firm, was so involved in business, civic and University of Wisconsin activities that he seemed to touch nearly every phase of the Madison community over his lifetime.
He followed the philosophy of his father, Emil Frautschi, who noted that his "hometown was entitled to two or three hours of my services each day."
In those footsteps, Walter Frautschi directed the fund drive that raised $1.5 million for the Civic Center project in 1976. He and his wife, Dorothy Jones Frautschi, a native of Barneveld, gave $50,000 for the beautification of the village after it was nearly destroyed by a tornado on June 8, 1984.
Their generosity also allowed the Madison Metropolitan School District to establish a school forest, for which Mr. Frautschi was given a Natural Heritage Foundation Stewardship Award in 1987.
The Frautschi legacy of protecting natural areas continued when his sons, John and Jerry, who worked with him at Webcrafters, honored their father by giving $1.5 million to the University of Wisconsin to purchase Second Point on Lake Mendota.
The sons managed to keep their plans secret and the elder Frautschi said he was "overwhelmed and totally surprised" by their gift in his name to the UW.
Mr. Frautschi was long active in university affairs and was president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 1947. As president-elect, he lashed out against the Board of Regents for slashing the UW budget by $3 million, affecting many research and service projects.
He took leadership reins in development of the Alumni House, later served as president and longtime trustee of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Memorial Union Council.
He was also a longtime trustee of the Vilas Estate, one of the prime benefactors of the UW and its students and professors.
In 1957 he was honored for his service to the UW by being named the first University Alumnus of the Year.
"He was a great guy, a really wonderful human being," said Sandy Wilcox, president of the UW Foundation. "He was dearly loved by everyone he was associated with. He participated in nearly everything that went on here, from the Memorial Union to the Alumni Association to the foundation, to other UW groups, and never turned us down when we asked something of him. He was a first citizen of this university, of this community and this state, a person who was very generous with time in countless activities."
On the city side of community endeavors, the busy Frautschi served over the years as president of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and the YMCA board of directors. He also held seats on company boards of directors and other groups. During World War II, he served as chairman of several Red Cross projects.
He also continuously served the United Way and its predecessor organizations such as the Community Union Campaign, the War Chest, Community Chest and United Givers.
Walter Frautschi was the middle of three generations to do so. His father was involved in those organizations as far back as the 1920s and Walter and his brother Lowell became active in such groups in the 1930s.
Walter's two sons remain active in the United Way. In recognition of that 70 years of family giving through community fund raising, the United Wayin 1996 honored the Frautschi family by giving it the annual Alexis de Tocqueville Society membership recognition.
The Frautschi clan was similarly honored by the Chamber of Commerce in 1984 which recognized the family's 115 years of distinguished service in the Madison business community.
Mr. Frautschi was elected to the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame in 1992. He also was given a civic leadership award that year by the Alexander Co.
Mr. Frautschi graduated from the old Wisconsin High School in 1920, and from the University of Wisconsin in 1924.
In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending at the Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Rd., in Madison.
Originally published as a news story of the front page of The Capital Times on December 2, 1997.
Note: There is an error in this story, Walter Frautschi graduated from the old Madison High School (later Madison Central High School) in 1920.