On Friday, Sept. 17, the Quinnipiac University community suffered a major loss when Barry R. Fritz, professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts passed away.
Fritz’s colleagues have been devastated since hearing of his death. One of Fritz’s closest comrades, Larry Levine, Associate Professor of Psychology has known Fritz since he came to the University in 1966 and will miss Fritz greatly.
“It’s hard for us to really understand that he’s gone,” Levine said, speaking on behalf of the psychology department. “He was my brother and I loved him,” he said.
Since his death, faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts have honored Fritz with a shrine located in his office, room 337 located upstairs in the College of Liberal Arts building on campus. Levine personally placed a candle, which burns throughout the day, in the shrine. Other contributions have been flowers, playing cards, and poker chips, placed in the shrine to recognize Fritz’s research accomplishments in regards to gambling and simply his own enjoyment of the game of poker.
“We keep it dark,” Levine said when describing the shrine. “People bring things in and we add things on a daily basis,” he said.
Also in the shrine stands a plaque from the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, awarded to Fritz because of his dedication to researching problem gambling and founding the first course on the subject at the collegiate level in Connecticut. Fritz taught the course, which focuses on the philosophy of risk, at Quinnipiac University. This plaque is only one of many accomplishments that Fritz has received throughout his lifetime.
Fritz earned his bachelor’s in psychology at the University of Vermont in Burlington, master’s in psychology at Connecticut College in New London, and doctorate in psychology at Yeshiva University in New York City. While attending the University of Vermont, Fritz enjoyed playing many card games. Later in life, he became more interested in the game of poker, which he had most recently spent much of his time studying in depth. Fritz had focused his research on problem gambling and the psychology of risk. By playing poker at Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino, both of which are located in Connecticut, Fritz was not only able to take note of his own behavior, mood, and betting habits, but also those of his opponents.
Fritz passed on his knowledge regarding the thought process of gamblers to gambling counselors throughout the country. In the Oct. 9, 2003 issue of eGambling, an electronic journal, Fritz co-authored an articled titled, “How to gamble information and misinformation in books and other media on gambling.” Fritz also shared his insight of gambling as a member of the board of directors for a nonprofit organization located in Guilford, Conn., called the Council on Problem Gambling, an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Though it may seem that Fritz’s only interest was in gambling, he also had many others, including his interest in the lives of his students and friends.
“He cared about students and they knew that,” Levine said.
“He always had a smile, and he’d just walk in to your office on a regular basis to talk to you,” assistant professor of psychology Penny Leisring said while remembering Fritz’s concern for those with whom he worked.
“He was interested in everything,” Levine said when speaking of Fritz’s many talents.
One of his serious interests was in theater. For a decade, Fritz had run the Stony Creek Puppet House Theater, located in Branford, Conn. There, he produced, directed and acted. A firm supporter of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, located in Woodbridge, Conn., Fritz participated in two plays held there this past year. At the community center, he performed in a student directed play, “Don’t Drink the Water,” written by Woody Allen. He portrayed a caterer, Walter Hollander from New Jersey in the play. Fritz also directed the play “You Can’t Take It With You,” at the community center, where three Quinnipiac University students and two alumni acted in the production.
Other acting appearances by Fritz have taken place when he played an extra in the 1976 drama, “Mystic Pizza,” starring Julia Roberts and the 1991 comedy, “Scenes From a Mall, starring Bette Midler.
“We were going to put him up for best supporting actor,” Levine said about Fritz’s appearance in “Mystic Pizza,” which only involved a short scene showing the back of his bald head.
Fritz has also been involved in commercials and plays in New Haven, Conn., and recently acted in the Quinnipiac University student production of “Frankenstein,” which may be featured during a multi-media presentation honoring Fritz’s theatrical accomplishments set to occur in October.
A long time Woodbridge and Stony Creek, Conn. resident, Fritz leaves behind his wife Mary and his brother Robert as well as his two step children Jed and Katie Doyle.
Currently, Fritz’s colleagues are planning an event in honor of Fritz that will take place at a later date to celebrate his life and accomplishments.
“He was a special person,” Levine said. “We are diminished,” he said.