William J. Lenz, Jr., 1945-2013

Psychiatrist dedicated to public institutions


Dr. William J. Lenz., Jr., a psychiatrist who preferred working with patients in public facilities to a private practice or academic career, died Sunday in his West Toledo home. He was 68.

He learned he had multiple sclerosis in 1983 and continued to work for about 20 years.

"He really hung in there," said Dr. Joel Zrull, retired psychiatry department chairman at the Medical College of Ohio. Dr. Lenz was a volunteer faculty member at MCO  from 1997-2004 and became a clinical associate professor of psychiatry.

That was his strong will, his son Karl said. "He was a courageous, strong, brave man who had a work ethic I've never seen duplicated," his son said.

In training MCO residents, his enthusiasm was infectious.

"Bill was an important guy," Dr. Zrull said. "He was very instrumental in convincing young people to enter the field [of psychiatry]."

Dr. Lenz worked primarily at the former Toledo Mental Health Center, now known as Northwest Psychiatric Hospital. He retired in 2000. He also had duties at the Wood County Mental Health Center in Bowling Green and the Zepf Center and the Rescue Crisis Center in Toledo. 

"He was a dedicated man," Dr. Zrull said. "When I tried to hire him to become a faculty member, he said, 'No, no, I'm dedicated to the people who don't have the money to take care of themselves at the state hospital."

He also tried to educate the rest of society that those he treated "were still humans," son Karl said. "They have rights and need to be treated with respect."

Dr. Lenz in 1999 was the first to receive the George W. Bartholow Memorial Award from an American Psychiatric Association district council for his career-long commitment to the care of people with severe and persistent mental illness. 

He was born Feb. 7, 1945, to Margaret and William J. Lenz. He was a 1962 graduate of Scott High School and received bachelor of science and medical degrees from Ohio State University. He was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and, serving stateside, treated Vietnam veterans for the condition now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Surviving are his wife, Peggy Lenz, whom he married June 22, 1968; sons, William J. III, Dr. Peter, and Karl Lenz; brother, Charles Lenz; sister, Carol Doerfler, and five grandsons.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. today in Pathway Community Church, where he was a member. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or the church.

--Mark Zaborney