"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

Frederick E. "Fritz" Willits

Born: 
Tuesday, April 6, 1948
Died: 
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Birthplace: 
Syosset, Long Island, New York
Service Information: 
At Fritz’s request there will be no memorial service.

Frederick “Fritz” E. Willits Jr. of Bellingham passed away January 28th, 2021 at his home, after a twelve year battle with metastatic prostate cancer. He lived longer than most, having many good years after his diagnosis. During the last few months his wife Marjorie “Margie” (Meyer) Willits, and son James “Jackson'' Willits, cared for him in their home of 36 years near Lake Padden. From his bedside windows, he had a view of daily activity of family, visitors, and pets. Visiting with friends was a challenge due to the pandemic and winter weather, but he could wave and talk through the window. He also regularly joined his golf buddies on Zoom, and played pub trivia online with friends.

People may remember Fritz from the Bellingham Boys and Girls Club. From 1979 until 2001 he worked with children, parents, and the community as well as fundraising in support of the Club. Fritz enjoyed playing rec league hockey with the ‘Rink Rats’, golf, and numerous other outdoor activities. He continued to play tennis at the Fairhaven Tennis Club into this past year.

He was born in Syosset, Long Island, New York to Frederick E Willits and Glenny Oelsner Willits in 1948. In his early years the family lived in Locust Valley, NY with his paternal grandparents residing nearby in Glen Cove. Many memorable summers were spent on Centre Island, with extended family at his maternal grandparents’ home.

Fritz attended Friends Academy in Locust Valley, NY and then graduated in 1967 from The Gunnery (recently renamed the Frederick Gunn School) in Washington CT, where he played hockey and excelled in rowing. He participated in the 1966 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta rowing for Oyster Bay Rowing Association and won the 145 lb. doubles, 2000 meter. He later earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology at Denver University while working as a cab driver there. He loved telling funny stories about his time driving a cab. In Colorado Fritz and his cousin Jim Oelsner enjoyed motocross racing and dirt biking excursions in the desert.

While finishing his master’s degree in Vancouver, B.C. he built the foundation under his house on Valencia St. in Bellingham, later remodeling the interior. He worked as a Volkswagen mechanic before starting his career at the Boys and Girls Club.

Fritz first met Margie at the swimming dock on Lake Padden. Months later, in 1982, a mutual friend invited them to walk on the trail around the Lake. Soon they were running the Lake Padden trails together regularly. It was after one of these runs that they spotted a for sale sign in front of an old run-down house nearby. Fritz had just taken out a loan to build a garage at his Valencia St. house, but the opportunity to live near their favorite park was too good to pass up, so in October 1984 he used the garage money toward the purchase of the old house.

They were married in 1986 and Jackson was born in 1987. Several years later they began renovating the old house, doing much of the work themselves. Jackson's early years were spent in the midst of demolition and reconstruction. As a family they enjoyed all sorts of outdoor activities such as ice skating, skiing, hiking, and sailing.

In 2014 Fritz and his friend Bob Warner purchased an old restoration project––a wooden sailboat named “Seamew,” a gaff rig sloop. Both Fritz and Bob grew up on Long Island and enjoyed sharing memories of their pasts. The boat was, and still is, a beautiful sight sailing in Fairhaven and beyond.

Fritz is survived by his wife Margie, his son Jackson, and two sisters Karen (Hank) Zentgraf of Fort Collins, CO, and Phebe (Doug) Paul of Boston, MA. In addition, Margie's family: Jeff (MIndee) Meyer, Bellevue WA, Bill (Nadean) Meyer, Spokane, WA, Kathie Morton, Burlington WA, Mary (Mike) Kimmich, Bellingham,WA , Molly (Jamie) Anderson, Aberdeen WA, Niel Blanchard Yuma, AZ, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and their families.

Paula [Meyer] Blanchard passed away in june 2019.

At Fritz’s request there will be no memorial service.

Donations may be made in Fritz’s name to the Boys and Girls Club (whatcomclubs.org)

or to Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center (nwtrc.org)

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Meg Brotnov on

Fritz was a joy to know and always had such interesting stories to share. Hold on to all the good memories. 

Submitted by Elizabeth Lau on

Beautiful life lived, and beautiful said. . .endured much. . .

Submitted by Ryan Carpenter on

I think for all of us that grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club, Fritzer made a massive impact.  He was one of the all time great people, fun, good with everyone, patient and compassionate.  Love you dude

 

Submitted by Steve Cornwell on

I didn't know Fritz very well, but he was always fun to play tennis with.  He had a quick smile and always asked how I was.  He didn't even let on that he was sick.  He will be missed.

Submitted by Robert Blum on

Fritz was a wonderful man who shared his life with hundreds of youth that frequented the Boy and girls club. I know that I am thankful for his service to my children. He would have been surprised had he seen those who would honor him at a memorial.

 

Submitted by Greg on

My condolences to the family of Fritz and to kHz all the kids who crossed his path. I too, recall running into him during time spent in the B&G gym on Meridian street whether it was on a Saturday for game time or a weeknight "practice". He has always been part of the memory of those good days of youth. 
 

Submitted by Greg Ehrlich on

I realize now that my time with my friend was much too short. I know this because I learned so much from reading his "life's story". I regret not taking advantage of our time together. Tell those you love today as tomorrow may not come. I will miss my golf bro. I will miss giving eachother "shit". I only knew Fritz these last few years. We shared a passion for reading--mystery, suspense and the like. I was his lending library. I hope he found peace while reading my books. He was a good man.

Submitted by Linda Miles on

My thoughts & prayers are with Fritz's family  at this difficult  time. My son was lucky to have Fritz as his first  basketball  coach. It's was a blessed experience for a new kid to sports. So many of Fritz's club kids will be very much saddened  to hear of his passing. He was such a mentor to so many at the club.  R.I.P. Fritz, Heaven's gain our Loss.

Submitted by Margie on

Thank you Meg, Dont we have some great memories rafting on the Salmon River with Bill and Nadean and the gang!!! I treasure them, and Fritz did too!!  Love, Margie

Submitted by Margie on

Yes, Greg, you did bring him peace and an escape with all your books. Thank you so Much! And when you moved away he had to use a Kindle tablet instead. He loved the physical books though......hadn't seen him read so much in years!!!
I'm so grateful for that.. thank you!  Margie

Submitted by Jim Oelsner on

Knew Fritz for over 70 years and always felt he was one of the best people I've ever known. Always enjoyed the times spent with him. His last 12 years were hard for him, but he knew he had a great life and wanted to keep spending time with his family and friends.  

Submitted by steve miller on

Fritz will be missed by all, but never forgotten. He was one of my geniune true frriends in my lifetime and I'll miss our get togerthers with Fritz and Randy. Fritz touched so many lives at the B&G Club and was truly the glue over the past 30 years with so many youth lives assisted and steering them the correct direction. May you rest in peace bub, God Bless!

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