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Don Rossiter Fritch

1933 - 2018
Don Rossiter Fritch Obituary
June 24, 1933 - July 6, 2018

Don Fritch, age 85, died on July 6, 2018 at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City. Experiencing a long fun life of service and adventure, he passed following a short illness, while traveling to a family gathering. Currently living in Longmont, CO, he was a longtime resident of Durango, CO, with 12 years spent in Jackson, WY.

Don was born on June 24,1933 to Kenneth Rossiter Fritch and Anna Marguerite (Horsbourgh) Fritch in Syracuse, New York. He was their only child. He grew up a 1/2 block from a City Fire Station where he met his "first heroes". Don was active in Boy Scouts and proudly achieved his Eagle Scout, then continued as an adult leader.

In 1955, he graduated from Syracuse University with a Degree in Forestry. Don began his 35-year career with the US Forest Service in the Black Hills National Forest. "While on a fire, he heard a 'Good looking voice on the radio' from the Fire Lookout, later climbing the tower, and meeting his future wife Kathy!" 1960-1977 found him in Colorado working on the Columbine Ranger District and San Juan National Forest as a Lands Staff Officer. Transferring to the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Jackson, WY, he continued his career as a Forest Land Specialist until his retirement in 1988. As part of the Forest Service Ski Area Feasibility Team, his most memorable accomplishments were the laying out of the original ski runs at Purgatory Ski Area, establishing Mary Jane at Winter Park, and expanding Peak 8 at Breckenridge.

Don lived a life of service to his community. His career as a Volunteer Fireman spanned 50 years. Beginning in Spearfish, SD in 1957 as a fireman; to Custer, SD; to Wilson, WY retiring as a Captain, and completing his career as an Engineer with the Animas/Durango Fire Department in 2012.

He joined the National Ski Patrol in 1949 and was active for 63 years on 10 different Ski Patrols, including Garmish, Germany while he was stationed there with the Army. Don was a member of the Purgatory Ski Patrol when the area opened in 1965. He was one of the 1st class of Avalanche Instructors for the Forest Service/Ski Patrol. Co-founder of the Silverton Avalanche School, he was Director for several years and Lead Instructor for over 30 years. In 1972, he was honored as the Outstanding Ski Patroller for the Rocky Mountain Division and 1st Runner-up for the 24,000-member National Ski Patrol. Don was honored to be an Instructor at the Hesperus Avalanche School, founded by his wife, Kathy.

Don also followed a career in the US Army. After graduating from Syracuse University as a 2nd Lieutenant, he was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. He spent 2 years in Germany with the 540th Combat Engineers as a Platoon Leader and Company Commander. Upon returning to the States he remained in the Army Reserve for 22 years, retiring as a Major in 1977.

Upon Don's retirement from the Forest Service, he and Kathy returned to Durango where they enjoyed 20 years of rediscovering the San Juan Mountains, sharing adventures with friends and family, and living life.

Summers found Don rowing his raft, "The Red Dog Saloon" on the white-water rivers of Wyoming, Colorado and the Four Corners Region, including 5 trips down the Grand Canyon. He spent 7 summers working as a boatman and guide for Wild Rivers Expeditions out of Bluff, Utah.

Don was a longtime and active member of the Durango Elks Lodge, American Legion and VFW.

Don and Kathy raised four children, proudly managing the "Fritch Funny Farm" with numerous animals, 4-H projects and adventures. Together they raised the family to enjoy skiing, hiking, rafting, climbing and exploring the wilds of the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest Desert.

Don is preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Kathy, who passed in 2008. Survived by his children, Mary (Joe) Berning of Arvada, CO; Robin Fritch and (Stephen Saltsman) of Durango, CO; Darla (Ray) Baumgarten of Eldridge, Iowa; Ken Fritch of Castle Rock, CO. Eight Grandchildren: Michael, Amy (Carlos Fuentes), Christopher Berning; Jurgen (Michelle) and Steffen Baumgarten; Kaitlyn (Jesse Hall), Kyndall, Kylene Fritch, and 5 Great Grandchildren. He will be missed by family, friends and his devoted dog Stony.

Don is also survived by his loving partner Marjorie Grant of Longmont. Friends for decades, they reunited 8 years ago. They loved life, adventure and each other. We are blessed to have her as part of our family.

A Celebration of Life will be held on September 2, 2018, 2pm-7pm at the Elks Picnic Grounds, 8208 County Road 240, Durango, CO. Bring a lawn chair and stories to share. For a complete Obituary, pictures, memories and future events, please visit www.Tributes.com or [email protected]

"Life is Great...if you live it!!"
Published in The Durango Herald on Aug. 16, 2018
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