Morvin A. Wirtz obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron

Morvin A. Wirtz, professor emeritus of special education, died Aug. 17 in Naples, Fla. He was 92.

Wirtz joined the faculty in 1967 to head what was then the new Department of Special Education. He had been serving as deputy assistant commissioner in the Office of the Disadvantaged and Handicapped in the U.S. Department of Education.

A pioneer in the field of special education, Wirtz was promoted to assistant dean of WMU's education college in 1968 and to associate dean one year later. He returned to full-time teaching in 1974 and retired a decade later after 17 years of service to the University.

WMU recognized Wirtz in 1979 as being among a group of outstanding researchers and grant recipients. Among his scholarly activities were writing several books, including "An Administrator's Handbook of Special Education"; investigating the use of simulation in training administrators; providing assistance to the Philippines Ministry of Education; and studying services for handicapped children in Scandinavia.

In addition, Wirtz received a grant from the U.S. education department for research adapting films for the visually and visually/perceptually impaired by creating new soundtracks where descriptive narrative was substituted for visual segments.

He began his professional career as a special education teacher in Wisconsin, then directed special education programs for Milwaukee County from 1949 to 1951 and headed the Department of Special Education and Occupational Therapy at Eastern Michigan University from 1954 to 1957. He spent the next six years serving as superintendent of the Special School District in St. Louis County, Mo., before joining the U.S. education department in 1964.

Wirtz earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Milwaukee State Teachers College in 1942 and 1951, respectively, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois in 1954.


Memorial gifts may be made to Avow Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105, or a local hospice of choice. Condolences also may be shown by doing a kind gesture for someone in Wirtz's memory or by visiting to make a memorial guestbook entry.