Richard "Fitz" Pfutzenreuter, a longtime treasurer at the University of Minnesota, was instrumental in the building of the school's most iconic structures.

He was the man behind the university's financial support for major projects ranging from TCF Bank Stadium to the Biomedical Discovery District — all while balancing the U's multibillion-dollar budget.

After battling prostate cancer for several years, Pfutzenreuter died Jan. 24 at his St. Paul home. He was 68.

"At the core of it, he was a public servant. He believed in that type of work that advanced society," said Elizabeth Eull, who has worked at the university for nearly 28 years and is interim director for University Services Information Services. "The mission of the institution was something he valued greatly."

Born and raised in St. Paul, Pfutzenreuter studied philosophy at Hamline University, then dove into the world of finance after graduation. He worked as a budget analyst at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, then became a fiscal analyst for the Minnesota House.

In 1992, Pfutzenreuter was hired to work in the university's budget office. He later became the university's CFO and treasurer.

His work revolutionized the university's finances and made its financial system more transparent and efficient, his former colleagues say.

Pfutzenreuter was a steady hand at the university. Serving under four presidents, he sought to make it a better place until he retired in 2016.

In addition to his work on major projects, Pfutzenreuter was instrumental in creating a need-based financial aid program at the university, as well as procedures and protocol for the school's budgeting system that are still used today.

On top of his daily work, he would make time to answer requests for interviews from students — whether it was for the school newspaper or research projects, said Mike Berthelsen, vice president of University Services.

"He really believed in working hard to make the state and the university a better place," said Julie Tonneson, the U's budget director. "He cared about the place really deeply."

Away from his work, Pfutzenreuter liked to keep busy hunting, fishing and woodworking.

"He was only happy if he had a project going on," Berthelsen said. "I don't know if I ever knew him not working on a project at his house, cabin or his son's house or creating a new tool."

At the end of the day, Pfutzenreuter most valued spending time with his family.

When his prostate cancer was diagnosed, he retired to spend more time with them.

He didn't waste one second.

With his wife, Andrea Burg, he traveled the world. He went to Europe, Hawaii, the Florida Keys and Alaska, where he enjoyed fishing. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down travel and much of the state, he did puzzles in his home in the Highland Park neighborhood, said Eull, who is also a close family friend.

"It was far too short, but that was all the time he was given," Eull said. "He was so committed to his family and the boys."

In addition to his wife, Pfutzenreuter is survived by sons Ben and Richard; brother Paul Pfutzenreuter; sisters Carol Satre, Terry Heide, Penny Markus and Lesa Kraus, and a granddaughter.

A gathering to celebrate his life will be planned at a later date.

Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759