Peter Michael Justinian Frenzel, Wesleyan University Professor Emeritus, died at Middlesex Hospital on May 20, 2018 after a brief illness. He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota on August 6, 1935, the fourth son of Paul and Paula Frenzel. He attended Saint Paul Academy and graduated from Yale University in 1958 with a BA in English. He received his Master of Arts from Middlebury College and his Ph.D. in German Language and Literature from University of Michigan. He did further graduate work at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
Following three years of teaching German at his preparatory school, he joined the German Department at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut in 1966. Some years after his attaining tenure, he was appointed Dean of Arts and Humanities for four years and, in his turn, was awarded the Marcus Taft Chair of the Department of German Language and Literature. He taught beginning and advanced German and worked with the Music Department and the Medieval Studies Department, which he helped organize and in which he taught with notable success.
At Wesleyan, he was a Board member and then President of the Friends of Davison Art Center, Editor of the newsletter of the Susan and William Wasch Center for Retired Faculty and acted as Graduation Marshall for many years. He played glockenspiel in the Wesleyan Pep Band (No rehearsing; no marching.) He rang the Wesleyan bells for many years (under the typically modest name “Ernest Toller”), and was instrumental in acquisition and installation of seven new bells, thereby constituting a full carillon.
Peter was a member of the Greater Middletown Preservation Trust, and served for six years on the building committee to restore the Wadsworth Mansion, where he later served as a docent. He was a Board member of the Connecticut Opera.He belonged to the Conversational Club, and performed with the local Gilbert and Sullivan troupe.
His deep sense of humor and his unusual gift for rhyme and rhythm made him a master of doggerel and inventive verse, which he used on spirited occasions and recited with his singularly impressive voice. Not to be forgotten were his culinary gifts and especially “Famous Frenzel’s Mustard”, delivered to select friends at Christmastime. His love of opera and especially Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle sent him and Laurie to venues near and far. As a qualified “Ring Nut” he saw at least twenty productions of the four-opera cycle.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Laurie Neville Frenzel, grandchildren John Frenzel and Rita Frenzel, daughter Kim Frenzel and partner John Lucey, and his older brother Robert.
His children, Kathleen, Will and Paul predeceased him.
Burial will be at the convenience of the family. A Memorial Gathering will be held at the Wadsworth Mansion, 421 Wadsworth Street, Middletown from 1:30-4:00 PM on Sunday, June 17.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, P.O. Box 97372, Washington D.C. 20090-7372 or to the Susan and William Wasch Center for Retired Faculty, c/o Jessie Steele, 51 Lawn Avenue, Middletown, CT 06457.
To share memories or send condolences to the family, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.