Marshall Fritz was a legendary and beloved libertarian leader who founded the Advocates for Self-Government and created the world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz.
He was an innovator and a genius. He was a brilliant speaker and was extremely personable. He opened many people’s eyes to new ideas and new ways of thinking. He was one of those rare people who literally changed the world.
Marshall died peacefully at home Tuesday, November 4, 2008, after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Marshall founded the Advocates in 1985 to help libertarians become successful communicators of the ideas of liberty.
In 1987, Marshall invented the now world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz.
The Quiz expanded on a chart created by Libertarian Party co-founder David Nolan. Marshall refined Nolan’s chart and added ten simple questions on political issues. In doing so, he created a Quiz that almost instantly tells takers which political group they are most aligned with, while also introducing them to a far more diverse, and accurate, multi-spectrum portrait of American politics.
The Quiz was an overnight sensation.
“Marshall’s remarkable little Quiz won so many millions of readers over the years that I used to tell him that he really was one of America’s most widely-read writers,” said Advocates for Self-Government President Sharon Harris. “Twenty million plus readers – that’s up there with Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Tom Clancy!”
Since 1987, over ten million card versions of the Quiz have been distributed. On the internet, an online version of the Quiz has been taken over 17 million times. Thousands continue to take it online every day.
Educators found the Quiz to be a natural for classroom use, and today it appears in the supplemental material for some of America’s most popular high school and college textbooks.
The Quiz reached still more millions by being reprinted or discussed in innumerable newspapers and magazines, including the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Miami Herald, and the London Sunday Times.
Marshall remained active with the Advocates until his death, serving on its Board of Directors.
In 1994 Marshall founded the Alliance for the Separation of School & State, and was chairman of its Board at the time of his death. For 12 years, he was a leading spokesman for the idea that ending state, federal, and local government involvement in schooling can strengthen the family and improve education for all children.
He was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the phrase “separation of school and state” into the vernacular.
He was the lead author of the “Proclamation for the Separation of School and State,” which states simply “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”
Worldwide, more than 30,000 individuals have endorsed the Proclamation. Prominent signatories include educators ranging from John Taylor Gatto to Mary Pride and Thomas Szasz; business people such as Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza; religious leaders from the late D. James Kennedy and Tim LaHaye, to Rabbi Daniel Lapin and the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.; and from Congressman Ron Paul to former U.S. Secretary of Interior and Energy and also former president of Focus on the Family, Don Hodel.
Marshall was born in California in 1943 and earned a B.A. from California State University Fullerton in 1964. A devout Catholic, he and his wife of 44 years, Joan, lived in Fresno, California. They had four grown children and a dozen grandchildren.
“Marshall was a bigger-than-life character,” said Sharon Harris, president of the Advocates. “He had a deep and profound effect on the liberty movement. He touched untold millions of lives. He criss-crossed the U.S. many times and traveled the world, sharing his passions with everyone he met. He loved people, and was equally interested in and comfortable talking with waiters, high school students, religious leaders, CEOs, and political leaders.
“He was the personification of the old Reader’s Digest title, ‘My Most Unforgettable Character,’” Sharon Harris added. “His life was a grand adventure, and all who were lucky enough to spend a little or a lot of time with him will never forget him. He was funny, passionate, brilliant, and one-of-a-kind.”