Waltraud E. Prechter
Waltraud (“Wally”) Prechter founded the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression in November, 2001. In April, 2004, the Fund was transferred to the University of Michigan Health System and is now the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the U-M Depression Center. For a quarter century, Wally served as the closest business advisor and confidant to her late husband, entrepreneurial visionary Heinz C. Prechter, quietly helping build the business empire that was Prechter Holdings.
Driven by the spirit of giving back to the community, the Prechter family established the World Heritage Foundation, a philanthropic entity dedicated to helping make a difference, primarily in the areas of health and education. Wally has served as President of the World Heritage Foundation-Prechter Family Fund since its inception in 1985.
Wally has been a positive force in her community, state, and country. She serves in leadership positions in numerous civic and charitable organizations including the University of Michigan President’s Advisory Group, the University of Michigan Depression Center National Advisory Board, the University of Michigan School of Education Advisory Board, the Kresge Eye Institute, the Robert and Gerry Ligon Research Center of Vision, Ford Health System Foundation Board of Trustees, Henry Ford Health System Behavioral Health Services Board of Trustees, College for Creative Studies, Taubman Medical Research Institute Advisory Board, the United German-American Committee of the USA, Inc. Advisory Board, the Commonwealth Center of Excellence for Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Board of Directors.
A strong advocate of health education for many years, Wally Prechter established the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression/Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund in memory of her late husband to advance breakthrough medical research to develop cures for bipolar disorder. Heinz Prechter suffered from intermittent bouts of manic depression for most of his adult life and fell victim to suicide on July 6, 2001, at the age of 59.
Wally has emerged as one of the most outspoken and effective mental health advocates in the United States. She was instrumental in establishing the Depression Center at the University of Michigan, the first of its kind in the nation. In May, 2002, she provided testimony before the U. S. Congressional Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, requesting a significant increase of federal funding of the National Institute of Mental Health and bipolar research. President George W. Bush appointed her to serve on the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to help improve the mental health care system in America. She received honors from the Juvenile Bipolar Foundation, and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders and was named by the Detroit News as one of the 2002 Michiganians of the Year. In 2004, Wally was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to co-chair the Michigan Mental Health Commission and was selected as one of Detroit’s most enterprising women by the Detroit Historical Society. In 2007, she was selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of Metro Detroit’s Most Influential Women and awarded the University of Michigan David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership. In May 2011, she was the honoree of the Mental Health Association in Michigan at their Annual Tribute Dinner.
Born in Alfershausen, Germany, Wally attended the University of Erlangen. She emigrated to the United States in 1977 and completed her education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education with honors.
Wally Prechter is a resident of suburban Detroit.
“I want to thank my mom for her relentless energy and her compassionate spirit. We would not be here without her faith; without her fight; without her incredible commitment to this cause.”