Remembering Bill Frenzel

At our annual dinner on September 12, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget paid tribute to former Co-Chair William Eldridge “Bill” Frenzel. In doing so, we shared a video featuring highlights of Bill’s career in public service, with perspectives shared by fellow CRFB board members Leon Panetta, Alice Rivlin, Jim Kolbe, Rudolph Penner, and Tim Penny. The five recounted personal and professional memories and testimonies to his many qualities: his unwavering political passion; his eagerness to work across party lines to achieve compromise; his witty sense of humor and strong family values; and many more. 


Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Frenzel was a strong voice for centrist, common-sense policymaking and led a life dedicated to serving his country and securing its future.


As a young man, Frenzel served honorably as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954. He was a state lawmaker in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1962 to 1970 before serving Minnesotans on the federal level. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970 at the age of 42.


Frenzel rose to become ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee and House Administration Committee. He served as a Congressional Representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for 15 years.


After he left Congress, Frenzel continued to exercise his passion for public service, serving as an expert advisor to U.S. Presidents, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. President George W. Bush appointed him to a commission to study the sustainability of the Social Security system, and he advised President Bill Clinton on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As Co-Chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, he raised his voice for fiscal responsibility and responsible governance. 


He and his beloved wife Ruth raised three daughters and had two grandchildren. He always served his country with a twinkle in his eye, cataloguing memorable moments with signature doodles, which he frequently gifted to friends and colleagues. We celebrate and remember Bill’s love of country, strength of spirit, and dedication to public service.