Mazie Froelich brought one book with her to the hospital—a copy of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. The book was worn from pages turned and good times shared: Mazie read it to her children and then to her grandchildren. As she lay ill from breast cancer, her family brought the ritual full circle.
“We read to her,” said her son, Henry. “Milne's writing was beautiful to my mother. It was only fitting that we could do that for her.”
After Mazie's death in 2002, Henry and his wife, Molly Dewar Froelich, of Charlotte memorialized this lifelong reader, patron of the arts and community activist with a gift to Carolina: $100,000 to the Creative Writing Program in the College of Arts and Sciences to bring successful writers who are also talented lecturers to the University.
“The Froelichs have given us wonderful faculty-support funding for the lecturers who teach about one-third of our creative writing courses here at Carolina. This is an absolutely essential need: Visiting-lecturer stipends had not increased in our area in about eight years, and both the amount and flexibility of their gift allow us to address this retention-recruitment need immediately and to continue offering our students a deep, diverse faculty. We are enormously grateful to them.”
The Froelichs are enthusiastic about the gift's format and the impact it will make on a program Molly calls “the jewel of the campus.”
“North Carolina has such a rich literary heritage,” she said. “How exciting for students in creative writing to take a course with someone who's actively writing and actively publishing—and how fulfilling for these writers to spend time in a classroom with bright, exceptional students.”
‘We are steeped in Carolina…'
Mazie Froelich attended St. Mary's School in Raleigh where she later served as its first chairwoman of the board, but she attended Carolina vicariously through every member of her immediate family: her husband, Jake '52, a deceased High Point business executive who also graduated from Carolina's first MBA class in 1953; her son, Sam '88 and his wife, Catherine '89; daughter-in-law Molly Dewar Froelich '83 and son Henry '81, '84 (MBA); and daughter Molly Froelich Smith '79, '88 (MD) and her husband, physician Bryan Smith '79, '82 (MA).
“We are steeped in Carolina,” Henry said.
Though Molly's business classes kept her confined within the walls of then business-school locale Carroll Hall, Henry pursued his undergraduate degree in international studies through a series of classes in English, history and political science. He came to Carolina after Woodberry Forest and knew he wanted to write as either vocation or avocation. “I spent time trying to seek out good teachers,” he said. “To have (creative writing professor and author) Doris Betts as a freshman with less than 20 people in that class was quite special.” Poet and professor James Seay also made an impression.
Henry joined the staff of the undergraduate literary magazine Cellar Door, headed by a young poet named Michael McFee, now Bowman and Gordan Gray Distinguished Professor of English. Ruel Tyson taught a religion class based on the novels of Walker Percy, one of Henry's favorite authors and fellow member of the Order of Gimghoul.
Following his graduation Phi Beta Kappa, Henry entered business school and pursued a career as an investment banker. He stayed close to Carolina as a member of the Board of Visitors, through involvement with Kenan-Flagler Business School and as an avid Carolina basketball fan. But he credits his undergraduate experience for a devotion to lifelong learning. His interest in poetry and fiction continues. Within this literary atmosphere, the Froelichs' children, Hal, Will and Ella, flourish as great readers—with Ella as an aspiring, and promising, young writer.
‘My mission is to keep Carolina a wonderful place.'
“Henry and I are grateful for what the University gave us and for what it continues to give: educational excellence, public service, research—and cultural experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime,” Molly said. “My mission is to keep it a wonderful place.” She describes her advocacy for Carolina as “thrilling.”
“I am privileged to be part of it,” she said. “To go out and re-energize women in the Charlotte community about Carolina—it's been a fascinating experience.”
For the Froelichs, advocacy is a family tradition. “Mazie was a devoted community activist,” Molly said. “She believed so much in giving back—in fact, she believed we have a responsibility to give back. This gift would please her so much.”
A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.
Spring 2005 Carolina Connections home...