Prechter's generous arms reached to the sky
By Lena Khzouz, Heritage Newspapers
Heritage Newspapers File photo/Grosse Ile Camera
Heinz Prechter presents a tearful Ronna Romney with the 1989 Woman of the Year Award during the American Lung Association’s Cinderella Ball.
Heritage Newspapers File Photo
Heinz Prechter is joined by Ray (left) and Jo Ann Dalto, Bob Taylor and Eileen Loder at the then-Presidential Inn in Southgate in September 1987, celebrating the Downriver River Roar boat races.
Heinz Prechter threw his support to many different organizations throughout his life.
In 1994 he threw more than support; he threw a basketball in a game sponsored by ASC Inc. at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview.
Prechter joined other ASC executives to raise money for charity.
Despite their good intentions and all of their business acumen, the other side won. Players representing the Downriver Salvation Army and the Detroit Rescue Mission emerged victorious.
"Heinz had a very big heart," said Keith Crain, chairman of Crain Communications, who knew him for 30 years.
"He did a lot philanthropically but he did it very quietly. He cared very much about people and making the world a better place."
Prechter was chairman of the Heritage World Foundation, an organization set up to support endeavors such as those in health care and the arts and to foster innovative partnerships and German-American relations.
His wife, Waltraud, is president of the organization that fosters developmental, charitable and educational activities.
Some of the organizations to which the Prechters have contributed time and money will make sure that his name lives on.
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor named The Prechter Laboratory for Interactive Technology in the School of Education after them as a result of their contributions, said Debra Griffith, regional director for southeastern Michigan for the university.
Scholarships in education and engineering have been set up in their name at the university, both in Dearborn and at the U of M Medical Center in Ann Arbor.
The Prechters initiated a fund at the medical center to study depression prevention, she said, calling it a very significant contribution.
They also served on many boards at the university.
"They’ve been just absolute, fabulous friends to the university," Griffith said. "Heinz was dedicated to bettering life for the human race in general, and it’s just going to be felt for many years."
At U of M-D, Prechter helped set up a building fund for the new engineering building and founded the Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems, she said.
Prechter’s generosity has touched other schools as well.
He was honorary co-chairman of Henry Ford Community College’s Building Futures Together Campaign and was a benefactor and dedicated supporter of HFCC for many years. He was a former member of the HFCC Foundation board of directors.
"Today we have lost a true friend and leader," President Andrew Mazzara said. "Not only was Mr. Prechter a staunch advocate of education, he was a champion of the Downriver area."
A World Heritage Foundation-Prechter Fund Scholarship has been set up at Kettering University in Flint for students from Downriver.
The Prechters donated $2.5 million to the Bush-Kohl Fellowship Program in 1999 through the World Heritage Foundation.
Prechter set up the international exchange program, housed at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A & M University, to advance German-American relations.
Arnold Vedlitz, director of the George Bush International Fellowship Program and the executive associate dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, said Prechter came up with the idea to honor his friend, former President George Bush.
Prechter provided the endowment and annual appropriations to create the program.
His dream was to foster and improve relationships between the cultures by helping adult professionals to network and return home to apply what they learned from one another, Vedlitz said.
"He was a person of great vision," he said. "This was something he wanted to see take place, and he makes things happen."
The program is in the pilot phase now, Vedlitz said, and though Prechter was not there, he invited the four fellows to his ranch in Wheeler, Texas, in the spring, a midyear retreat of sorts.
"Our thoughts are with the family, and we are just extremely sympathetic with their loss," he said. "We liked him and had tremendous respect for him."
Prechter supported many other nonprofit organizations.
As a member and then vice chairman of Henry Ford Museum’s board of trustees, he helped secure state funding for the museum’s IMAX Theatre as a catalyst for community economic development, said Wendy Metros, director of public affairs.
"He directly supported the institution’s $40 million capital campaign to address the many long-deferred infrastructure needs of the museum," she said.
"Mr. Prechter was a staunch supporter of the regional cultural funding initiative and was an important Downriver advocate for that effort."
He was co-chairman of a benefit last year at Somerset Collection in Troy for the Share Our Strength organization, a leading anti-hunger, anti-poverty group.
The fund-raiser was to benefit Gleaners Community Food Bank, the Food Bank of Oakland County, Forgotten Harvest and the Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute.
Money also was directed to the Variety Produce Rescue Program, the Share Our Strength Operation Frontline and several other statewide organizations.
The chairman and founder of ASC Inc. contributed to countless other organizations.
The Prechters helped chair the American Lung Association’s annual Cinderella Ball for charity.
He gave the Holocaust Memorial Center in West Bloomfield moral and monetary support for years.
"He was above everything a very nice man, a man who was dedicated to do good things," Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig said.
The Prechters have donated much equipment to the Kresge Eye Institute as well.
Prechter was active in many organizations in different capacities, but among his many other charitable interests, he gave to The Hundred Club, Police and Fireman Survivors Aid; the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Metro Detroit; the Young Men’s Club of Metro Detroit; United Foundation; Boy Scouts of America; the Camp Fire-Detroit Area Council; the Circle of Fellows; the Michigan Cancer Foundation; the Leukemia Society of America; Oakwood Hospital Foundation; United Way for Southeastern Michigan; and the Detroit Institute of Arts.