Frederick R. Dietz, a great bear of a man, who loved deeply and learned constantly, who kept his family entertained whether he tried to or didn't, and who helped children across the world by treating clubfoot, died on Sunday, August 12th, at home with his family. He was 67.
Fred said that he had lived "the good life," a vibrant float around the galaxy. In the end, he got pancreatic cancer. It was important to Fred that his friends know he was sorry he didn't have time to say goodbye to each person he loved, but that by the end he had "finished it the way he started" without regrets, and that he had come to terms with his death. He wanted to say, simply, "It's been a pleasure."
Fred was born in Akron, Ohio, the second of four siblings, though he often told his children that he came from the planet "Zorgopt." He graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Medical School and came to Iowa City in 1977 for an Orthopedics Residency. Fred said Iowa was his first choice for training and his last choice for weather, but he was always proud to work at the University of Iowa among exceptional colleagues and within an exemplary Orthopedics program.
Fred loved friends, tennis rackets, deep water, big waves, and the son of two journalists he loved words. He often led dinner conversations around grammar, or revisited age-old family debates like the one about the difference between "a pitch" and "a pass" at the table. Fred always said he was willing to be wrong about one or two things in his lifetime, but truly he was wrong less often than his family would have liked.
Fred's favorite sound was that of the people he loved playing in the yard. Of his two sons, Alex and Andrew, Fred said they were "the reason every day was worth it." One of Fred's great pleasures was playing with Alex's son and Fred's first grandchild, Thomas. Alex and Andrew are grateful to have had such a great dad, and friend, in Fred. Fred's two step daughters, Sarah and Liza, are forever grateful that he decided to take on raising teenage girls. All four kids will miss him terribly.
This year Fred celebrated his 18th Anniversary with Meg, who he sometimes described as "Lauren Bacall" and sometimes as "me love, me pride, me darlin'," sometimes as "your mother" and other times just "sweets." Fred liked to say that his two years of retirement were like going back to school again, "except that the only classes were gym, band, and lunch." He loved spending his days playing tennis, piano, guitar, and trombone, floating on the pond, playing in his shop, and working in the yard with Meg.
Fred always said he was lucky to know some of the best people on the planet and also to call those people his friends. He cherished the friends whom he had known for decades: the friends in medicine and tennis and music, and the friends he made while teaching the Ponsetti method and treating clubfoot deformities across America, and in the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Laos, Bangladesh, and beyond. Fred's work lives after him in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of children and adults who are living lives unhampered by pain while running, jumping, dancing, and covering more ground every day.
Members of Fred's family include, Meg (Lande) Dietz; his sons, Alex (Alicia Oberle) Dietz of Lakewood, Colo., and Andrew Dietz of Wellington, NZ; and his step daughters, Sarah Minor of Cleveland, Ohio, and Liza Minor of Boulder, Colo. In addition, his family include his mother, Margaret Dietz of Akron, Ohio; his brother, Hank (Juanita) Dietz of Graham, N.C.; his sister, Susan (Eric) Pardee of Cleveland, Ohio; and eight nieces and nephews. Fred lost his father, Dick and his younger brother, John too early.
Please join us for a Celebration of Fred's Life at The Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville, Iowa, on Saturday, August 25th, 2018. The event will begin at 1 p.m., followed by a reception. All are welcome.
If you'd like to honor Fred, in lieu of flowers, please pour a Manhattan and drink it with someone you love.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store
Published by Akron Beacon Journal from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22, 2018.