Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College announces 2011 Distinguished Alumna

April 29th, 2011 | SMWC

In many ways, all of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s alumni are distinguished. As leaders, mothers, volunteers, entrepreneurs and trailblazers, our graduates consistently make significant contributions to the quality of life of others. Each year, the College honors a specific alumni who embodies all of these characteristics. For her time, energy and leadership to make a significant and inspiring impact in her community and to her alma mater, SMWC will name Martha Becker Head as the 2011 Distinguished Alumni at its commencement exercises on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

SMWC considers Head a model partner by her consistent, and often innovative, support of the College. Her generosity has served the College and its students in untold ways. Her spirit of service and dedication to her community reflect values instilled in her during her time as an undergraduate at The Woods. She has been an active member of the College’s Board of Trustees since 2002.

Head loved SMWC from the moment she saw it and knew there was no other choice for her.  She enjoyed the camaraderie, commitment, values, scholarly pursuits, the interaction with the Sisters of Providence, and the freedom and opportunities the College offered.  

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Head earned her bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry from SMWC in 1953. After graduation, she worked as a quality control chemist and head of volunteers at Kansas City General Hospital.

A combination of adaptability, resilience and strength of purpose allowed her to face challenges head on. She and her husband, Jack Fritzlen, raised their three daughters in Vail, Colorado. When he passed away, Head took over their company — which specialized in electronic equipment for law enforcement — at a time when few women held positions of power and leadership.

As a vital part of the Vail community for many years, she serves on the board of directors of Vail Valley Foundation. Head took on a significant leadership role in promoting Vail and Beaver Creek to the country and the world through her interests in the arts, athletics and education. From her work with major national and international events such as World Cup Ski Racing, Vail International Dance Festival, World Alpine Ski Championships and the World Mountain Bike Championships, Head is passionate about keeping the Vail Valley vital and exciting.

Her commitment to education has been a significant part of her participation at the Foundation. The Foundation provides college scholarship grants to deserving high school seniors and its literacy programs help to strengthen families within the communities where assistance is needed most.

For her dedication to her community, Head was the 2010 recipient of the Vail Valley Foundation’s Vail Valley Citizen of the Year Award. Head joined an outstanding list of past recipients, including President Gerald R. Ford.

Her late husband, Howard, revolutionized two sports with the introduction of the metal ski and the design of the oversized tennis racket. Today, HEAD NV is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of premium branded sports equipment. She established the Howard Head Sports Medicine Center at the Vail Valley Medical Center in his honor. Driven with a passion for her community, she oversees The Howard and Martha Fund, Inc.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the world’s highest botanic garden, bestowed its top honor to Head, longtime supporter and advocate. In 2008, Head received the Spirit of Betty Ford Award for conduct and character that exemplifies former first lady Betty Ford. These characteristics also include courage, kindness and a passion for promoting the Gardens as an educational resource. Creating and maintaining her own stunning gardens, Head is known for her breathtaking rose garden— putting the high-altitude mountain environment to the test.

Head naturally assumed the role of a leader in philanthropy long before it became a trend. She passionately supports the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, Vail Valley Foundation, Vilar Center for the Performing Arts and The Family Learning Center. She serves on the boards of Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame Business Advisory Council, and United States Ski and Snowboard Association, in addition to the board of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

She leads a very active life in Vail with her husband, Dr. John Feagin, a retired orthopedic surgeon, with whom she enjoys flying, golfing, skiing and world travel. Feagin shares her love and support of SMWC as he also serves on the Board of Trustees at the College.  Marty Head is a mother of three daughters, Lynn Fritzlen, Guerin Fritzlen and Marla Croke, and seven grandchildren.

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