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Courtesy: WMU

Varsity 'W' Club Names Man & Woman of the Year

Courtesy: Mat Kanan, director of athletic media relations
Release: 02/08/2013
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Karl Freed and Edie Wirtshafter will be honored as the 2013 Man & Woman of the Year as presented the Varsity 'W' Club of Western Michigan University.

Karl becomes the 47th 'W' Club Man of the Year since the award's inception in 1967, while Edie is the 24th 'W' Club Woman of the Year since its inception in 1990.

Both will be honored during halftime of the men's basketball game on Feb. 16 with a reception in their honor at Read Fieldhouse preceding the game.

Karl's nomination stemmed from his unwaivering support of the athletic department, the University and the Mike Gary Athletic Fund.  He has been a staunch supporter of WMU Athletics, specifically within the Bronco baseball program. 

Karl was born in the small community of Gladwin Michigan on December 13,1944. He grew up in the nearby Buckeye Oil Field, playing among the oilfield equipment. His father was transferred to Newaygo where Karl attended school in the lower level of the Library. In 1953 his family moved back to Gladwin, where Karl excelled in School, earning top honors. In 1960, his family moved to Albion, where Karl graduated from Washington Gardner High School. He attended MSU from 1963 to 1968 obtaining a BA in Urban Planning. After graduation Karl obtained a job in Kalamazoo, working for the County. After four years with the County he became a consultant with Gove Associates, Inc. (Gove).

During his 35 years at Gove, he graduated with from Western Michigan University with an MA in,Urban Geography, became a Professional Community Planner registered in Michigan and the Nation AICP. He served Gove in many capacities such as VP, Treasurer, President, CE0, and Director.

Karl worked with many communities throughout Michigan and the Midwest, specializing in Utility Planning, Downtown Redevelopment, and Urban Economics. In 2006 Gove Associates merged with Fleis & VandenBrink Engineeering and Karl began early retirement, fully retiring in 2009.

Karl now lives in the Parkview Hills Planned Community in the City of Kalamazoo and continues to serve the community on voluntary boards, such as City ZBA, FCC. EARC, Cliffs.

Edie is a 1978 graduate of Western Michigan University, earning a degree in physical education with a coaching minor.  She went on to earn her master's in sports administration from Central Michigan 1994.  She was a two-sport student-athlete with the Broncos, earning a pair of varsity letters in both volleyball (1974, 1975) and field hockey (1976, 1978).

Since her graduation from WMU, she has become a major supporter of the Special Olympics, volunteering with the organization since 1986.  She currently serves as the director of field service.  Edie was also the Head of Delegation for Team USA in the 2005 World Special Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

She has been a member of the Varsity 'W' Club Board for over a decade and in 2006 was joined the Outstanding Alumni Academy for the Department of Health, Physical Education & Recreation at Western Michigan University.
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