Martha Head honored as ‘Citizen of the Year’ |

Martha Head honored as ‘Citizen of the Year’

Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Martha Head will disagree, but Vail would probably be at least a somewhat different place if she hadn’t moved here.

Head, who has lived in Vail off and on – mostly on – since 1970, will be honored as “Citizen of the Year” by the Vail Valley Foundation at tonight’s annual Black Diamond Ball at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch.

Like most recipients of big honors, Head is grateful, but modest.

“Volunteer of the Year is a much bigger honor,” she said.

Still, Head and her family have left a lasting mark on Vail and the valley.

She and her first husband, Jack Fritzlen, moved to the valley full-time in 1970 and raised their three daughters here. Daughter Lynn Fritzlen’s career has been in Vail, helping to shape the look of the town as it grew.

In those early days, Jack Fritzlen ran his company – which specialized in electronic equipment for law enforcement – from Vail.

After Jack died in 1984, Head took over the company.

“People would ask, ‘What gives you the right to run the company?’ and I’d say, ‘My resume says ‘no previous business experience’ – that’s what gives me the right,” she said.

Not long after, she was introduced to the man whose name she still bears – Howard Head. She was introduced by a mutual friend, and Howard immediately asked Martha to go skiing.

“He called just about as soon as I walked through the door of my place that day,” she said.

She went – “I’d ski with the devil himself,” she said – and the two hit it off immediately. The couple married, and moved to Baltimore, where Martha lived for more than a decade, even after Howard’s death in 1991. She returned to Vail after being mugged, at gunpoint, and has lived here since.

Howard’s legacy lives on in both the ski company he founded, and, of course, the Howard Head Sports Medicine center, which helps everyone from lift operators to all-star athletes get back in their games.

After nearly 15 years as a single woman, Martha married Dr. John Feagin in 2005, and the couple still calls Vail home. Head travels, and still skis, golfs and plays tennis – “but not the way I used to,” she said.

“I loved Vail when I first came here,” she said. “I think I love it more now.”

Part of that love comes from her involvement with the Vail Valley Foundation, which has been a big part of her life since she helped with a project for the Ford Amphitheater.

“(The Foundation) has just grown and grown over the years,” she said, quickly rattling off the group’s contributions to the valley’s sporting, cultural and educational life.

Head volunteered for the World Alpine Ski Championships in 1989 and 1999, and plans to help as much as she can with the 2015 event.

“It will be better than the Olympics,” she said.

While no one knows what the future holds, Martha Head knows where her heart will always be.

“I’m a happy camper here,” she said. “I have three wonderful daughters, extended family and friends. I’m in hog heaven.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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