John Walter Fritz went to be with the Lord on May 10, 2023, just short of his 96th birthday.
A celebration of lives (including wife Doris who passed away during Covid) will be held at 10:00 AM Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Mason City, with Pastor Dan Dahl officiating. Military Honors will be conducted by the Mason City Veterans Association. Interment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 4-6 PM Monday, May 15, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church, in the Gathering Space. Services will be livestreamed on Major Erickson's Facebook Page.
John was born June 9, 1927 in Albert Lea, MN, the sixth child of Rev. Charles and Pauline (Peterson) Fritz. He attended schools in the Albert Lea area, Hibbing, and Cook, MN. As a youth, he was active in the Boy Scouts, basketball, and the Civil Air Patrol. Following John’s junior year in high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp, serving in both Italy and Germany from 1945 – 1947, receiving the Army of Occupation Metal (Germany).
John received degrees from Luther College, Univ. of Minnesota, and Drake University in Art Supervision and School Administration. Additional graduate work was done at UNI and ISU.
John was united in marriage to Doris B. Lind on August 17, 1950, at Nazareth Lutheran Church in Coulter, IA. They both taught school in Charles City, and moved to Mason City in 1953, when he became Art Supervisor. In 1960, he became principal of Washington Elementary and taught art at Mason City Junior College, and supervised ISU student teachers. From 1975 – 1990 John served as principal at Jefferson School and Art Department Chairman. After his retirement as principal, he led the Adopt a School and Artist in Schools programs. He was with Mason City Public Schools for 44 years.
John was active in his church, community, and professional organizations. He served as president of Trinity Congregation, Luther College Alumni Association, both local and state president of Iowa Association of Elementary School Principals, plus a cabinet member of Iowa Educational Administrators, and lifetime member of NEA. John was active with the art exhibits at the North Iowa Fair and was a long-time member of Noon Lions Club and had served as president. He was also a recipient of the Melvin Jones Award from Lions International. John enjoyed being a docent at the Charles MacNider Museum in his later years.
John and his wife Doris decorated the chancel of Trinity Lutheran Church for Christmas for many years, featuring life size figures carved from Styrofoam and other decorations to enhance the scene. One of his sculptures hung in the Governor’s Mansion the next year. Most recently he published a book with many of the sculptures created for Trinity’s Christmas. He also published “The Fritz Family History” 1653-2005, a narrative on eleven generations.
John loved gatherings of family and friends and traveling was tops on his list. He enjoyed the outdoors, and especially the lake where they lived for nearly 55 years. John and Doris hosted many events in their home with all the fine linens, china, and decadent deserts. His sense of humor kept us laughing and his positive disposition was soothing right until his passing. John was loved by many who had him as an art teacher, principal, landlord, and friend.
Those thankful for sharing his love of life are Charles (Carol) Billings, MT, daughter Cheryl Mason City, grandsons Isaac and Erik Billings, MT, other family members are dear sisters Harriet Esse, Spring Grove, MN and Nancy Christian, Fertile, MN and the many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.
John was preceded in death by his wife Doris, brothers Paul, wife Billie Fritz, Eliel, wife Marion Fritz, sisters Sylvia, husband Rev. Albert Frerichs, Margaret, husband Carlyle Olsen, May, husbands Ansgar Refsdal, Rev. Alan Skinlov, several nieces and nephews.