HOWARD LUTZ KIRZ, M.D. ~ Class of 1960
August 31, 1941 - August 22, 2008
Howard Kirz, 65, of Bainbridge Island and Tucson, passed away suddenly of a heart attack on August 22, while bicycling with friends on Vashon Island.
Howard was born in Kentucky on August 31, 1942 to Benjamin and Beatrice Kirz. As a small child he moved with his family from Louisville to Richland. WA, where he graduated from Columbia High School in 1960. He attended the University of Washington, earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago in 1967, and an MBA at the UW in 1984. Howard spent much of his professional career at Group Health Cooperative, initially as an ER Physician and later where he served as Medical Director. He initiated Group Health's Northwest Center for Medical Leadership.
In 2004 Howard and his wife Stephanie endowed the Group Health Foundation's fund for Tomorrow's Medical Leaders. This ability to transform what he found, to expand boundaries, and motivate people would distinguish Howard throughout his life. The need of contemporary physicians to acquire leadership and management acumen was one of Howard's deep interests and the source of his many contributions. He provided coaching, counseling, and teaching to medical leaders across the country and the world. He served as president of the American College of Physician Executives, was author of books, articles and taught many live and on-line courses about instilling management principles. He was instrumental in developing Emergency Medicine as a board-certified specialty and was proud to be one of its first Board Examiners. He was also board certified in Family Practice. Howard became a clinical professor at the University of Washington's Department of Health Services, and was influential in starting the UW's Certificate Program in Medical Management.
As an ER physician Howard quickly learned, "You don't know if you're going to get tomorrow." For that reason he packed his days tightly with hiking, countless backpacking trips, the happy pursuit of salmon and steelhead fishing and, good wine. He always said, "We're too old to drink bad wine."
Howard later discovered a love for cycling, and he and his wife Stephanie led rides for the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle and the Cactus Cycling Club in Tucson. They biked in over a dozen countries and rode across the country during a three-month adventure, for Howard's 60th birthday. Howard's passion for photography -- another of his passions -- documented their many travels in various publications.
Howard's family and friends will remember his charisma, boundless energy, and imagination - he turned a simple conversation into an art form. Those fortunate enough to spend time with Howard found that it passed quickly in a blur of engagement, wisdom, and discovery. He could comfort people and empower them at once, changing how they viewed themselves and their role in the world. He leaves the proudest legacy it is possible to leave.
Howard is survived by his beloved wife Stephanie Ager Kirz; son, Joshua; siblings Paul ('66), Donna ('68), and Louise ('76); nephews and niece Paul Jr., Kevin, Benjamin, David, Joseph, and Beatrice; and a galaxy of devoted friends.
A private memorial service is planned for November 8th in Seattle, WA. For more information please call or email: Paul Hooser at 206-448-2171 or hooser.p@ghc. Howard's family is deeply grateful for the many expressions of support, which they have received.
Remembrances in Howard's name may be made to the Group Health Foundation's Fund for Tomorrow's Medical Leaders or the Cascade Bicycle Club.
Crazy Guy On A Bike website
Romantic Retirement Retreat - Seattle Times Story
The Complete Handlebar Guide to Bicycling the TransAm Virginia to Oregon/Washington (Spiral-bound) ~ by Stephanie Ager Kirz (at Amazon.com)