Celebrating the Life of Fritzi Woods


Woods, who passed away unexpectedly on September 18, 2013, led the WFF for three years through a period of strategic development and significant growth. Under her leadership, WFF expanded its product and service portfolio, increased the level of engaged members, partners and volunteers and established a broad professional organizational structure. She recently worked with the Obama administration as an advocate for gender-balanced executive teams and on issues of health care and nutrition and served on the boards of several organizations, including Jamba Juice, Ignite Restaurant Group, the National Restaurant Association, BUCA and Lone Star New Market.

Building people to people connections was the hallmark of Woods’ leadership. A natural collaborator, she embraced knowledge, put the right people in play, eliminated noise in the communication channel, and pushed others’ creativity and performance – the ingredients for delivering 1+1=5 solutions for the enterprise. Her analytic acumen, uncanny powers of observation and unrelenting focus fueled results that made strategy actionable and mitigated risk. Woods thrived on leading – being accountable for both the good and the bad– that built a loyal following and a culture of success and engagement wherever she went.

Previously Woods served as Executive Chair of the Board, CEO, and President of Primesource Foodservice Equipment, which at its profitable sale in 2012 was the tenth largest foodservice equipment company with customers in the U.S. and 46 other countries. She changed the business model and turned around a near bankruptcy acquisition, increasing market share and delivering above market return to investors. During that time, she also was a member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Audit and Governance Committees of BUCA, a publiclytraded restaurant management company. Earlier she held senior executive positions in sales and marketing and finance with the Dallas Morning News and Motorola. She began her career as an Auditor with Arthur Andersen & Co.

Woods had a BBA in Accounting and was a CPA. She was a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management Center for Executive Women Steering Committee, and the National Restaurant Association Board. She was named an Ernst & Young finalist for Entrepreneur.

Fritzi Woods Aspire Higher Fund

Guided by Fritzi's leadership, the WFF expanded its reach to more than 30,000 engaged in the development of strategically prepared talent for the foodservice industry, but work remains to realize Fritzi's vision. To continue her work, we have established a separate fund to support leadership development opportunities for women in the foodservice industry.

Tax deductible donations can be made to the Fritzi Woods Aspire Higher fund in three ways:

1. Donate online , or

2. Checks may be mailed to: WFF 
c/o Fritzi Woods
Aspire Higher Fund

6730 LBJ Freeway, Building B
Dallas, TX 75240

3. Stop by any Wells Fargo location and ask to make a donation to the Fritzi Woods Aspire Higher Fund.

Memories from Friends and Colleagues

“I was deeply saddened to learn of Fritzi’s passing, and I want to extend my heartfelt condolences as you mourn her loss. Fritzi’ will be remembered for her work to further the role of women in the foodservice industry. Throughout her life, Fritzi’ was a leader, an innovator, and a role model for women across our country. As the mother of two daughters, I am thankful that her impact will live on for generations to come.”

– Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

“While Fritzi’ was new to our board, she provided extremely valuable insights to our team and was an unstoppable force in the industry. She was respected and loved by all. Her absence will be felt deeply by myself and our team. We will miss her very much.”

– Ray Blanchette, Chief Executive Officer Ignite Restaurant Group

“Fritzi’ was the leader we strive to be and the person we want to be. She was a transformational leader for WFF…as she always said, “go big or go home.”

– Laurie Burns, SVP, SRG Strategic Platform & Development,
Darden Restaurants, Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) Chair

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Fritzi Woods. Many of my colleagues and I had the privilege of working closely with Fritzi and supporting her advocacy for women’s empowerment. She was a visionary leader of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and a valued and longstanding partner of Coca-Cola. Under her direction, WFF built robust membership and became an invaluable leadership development resource for countless female executives. On behalf of the entire Coca-Cola family, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to Fritzi’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

– Steve Cahillane, President Coca-Cola Americas

“What I will always remember and cherish about Fritzi is how we learned from each other. I know I grew as a person and as a leader from knowing her. The world is a better place for having had her in it.”

– Lorna Donatone, COO & President, Sodexo Education, Sodexo, WFF Past Chair

“On behalf of the board of directors and the entire MFHA team, I want to express our deep sadness over the loss of industry icon Fritzi’ Woods. Fritzi’ was a champion for women and for minority entrepreneurs in our industry and she will be greatly missed.”

– Gerry Fernandez, CEO, Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Association (MFHA)

“I will never forget the morning that Fritzi asked Mary O’Broin and I if she should ‘throw her hat in the ring’ to be considered a candidate for CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum. I knew at that moment that the future of the WFF was bright. Little did we know HOW bright! Fritzi was a brilliant leader and a trusted friend. I will miss her dearly.”

– Maureen Hurley, Chief Administrative Officer, Rich Products WFF Past Chair

“The leadership and commitment Fritzi displayed while heading the Women’s Foodservice Forum was unparalleled. She made everyone that was lucky enough to cross her path stand taller and smile brighter. The foodservice community, especially the women leaders for whom she advocated so strongly, has benefited tremendously from her efforts. Nation’s Restaurant News and all of us at the Penton Restaurant Group are deeply saddened by this loss. Fritzi will be missed.”

- Sarah Lockyer, Editor-in-chief, Nation's Restaurant News

“Fritzi’ impacted an incredible number of executive women who she mentored, guided, and inspired. She motivated both men and women to see the need for change and take action. We will miss her terribly but her legacy will live on.”

– Victoria Husted Medvec, Executive Director,
Kellogg Center for Executive Women Kellogg School of Management

“Fritzi’ was a bigger than life personality with the energy of an army. When I first met her, it was immediately apparent just how exceptionally formidable, passionate and smart she was. Of course, she made a good first impression. But it was what came later that left the genuinely lasting impact. She had so much depth, was so insightful, so compassionate. Fritzi’ defined what it meant to be a good steward of people and institutions."

– Robert Mong, Editor The Dallas Morning News

“Fritzi, our friend and leader, was passionate about expanding the impact of the WFF and its mission to elevate women leaders…and she did it. We are all, women, men and organizations, eternally grateful for knowing her, and are better for it. Her personal center was filled with authenticity, optimism, realism, intelligence, impact, respect, family, joy and love. Her smile and laughter lit up all rooms and people (and her frequent texts always lifted me up). I will miss her always and am filled with gratitude for what was, and because of who she was, what can be.”

– Edna Morris, Managing Director, Axum Partners WFF Founding Chair

“Fritzi was purposeful in her love: for her God, her family, her friends, her mission/calling. Yet she did not take herself or her life so seriously that she could not laugh and enjoy each moment! I will miss you my special friend.”

– Linda Pharr, Former President Batrus Hollweg International WFF Past Chair

Fritzi’ was as warm as she was professional. She truly had a heart of gold and Dallas will miss her."

– Mike Rawlings, Mayor, City of Dallas

“Our amazing Fritzi – a woman of strong faith, family, beliefs and courage. I’d wish for one more smile, hug or conversation, although your wisdom will last me a lifetime. I am grateful for your friendship, your kindness and the beautiful way you have lifted us all up. I will miss you, my friend.”

– Carin Stutz, WFF Past Chair

“By her very life, Fritzi’ showed us all how to lead and how to live: with integrity, authenticity, hope and an endless belief in the very best of humankind. Her presence in our lives remains and we are forever changed thru knowing and loving her.”

– Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association

“Fritzi was a fearless and passionate leader whose love for elevating women leaders was evident in all she said and did. She will be missed by all of us and we know that she will be with us in spirit as we carry on the important and meaningful work of the Women’s Foodservice Forum. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and our WFF staff and members as we try to comprehend our loss.”

– Alice Wheelwright, Vice President, Global Initiatives
Ecolab WFF Past Chair

“On behalf of the Jamba Juice Board of Directors and Management Team we are all deeply saddened by the loss of Fritzi’; she was an outstanding Board member, mentor and friend. We will work hard to carry on her Legacy for driving positive change in our Industry.”

– James D. White, Chairman and CEO, Jamba, Inc.