George William Harold was born Tuesday, April 3, 1948 to Catherine Elizabeth (Cain) and Arnold “Harold” Fritsch. George’s father was born December 23, 1903 in Egremont Township. Catherine, George’s mother was born August 11, 1922 in Sullivan Township, also known as Tipperary.
George’s parents were married March 25, 1942. The family lived in Peabody. Sadly, Harold was killed instantly in a tragic trucking accident just north of Elmwood. There had been heavy snowfall, strong winds and poor visibility. It was 1951 and Harold was only forty-seven. Catherine, Helen, Beatrice, George, and Orial were left to survive on their own. In time Catherine married Harold Elwood Parker and they had one daughter, Mary. Harold passed away November 14, 1989, at the age of seventy-five. They had been married only 10 years. Catherine died March 10, 1997 at the age of seventy-four.
George and his siblings attended a small, one room school house in Peabody. When he was fourteen he moved out of the family home and in with the Mair family. Walter Mair and George grew up as brothers and are good friends to this day.
He was used to hard work, and anxious to get a good paying job, George dropped out of high school in Chesley and joined the work force. He was working for John Thomson at Heirloom Furniture when he met the love of his life, Gail Anne Thomson.
Gail and George were both avid Stock Car racers. If the truth be told, Gail was the better driver, winning more trophies than George. She even won the ‘roll over’ trophy. (Yikes!) For a couple of years after high school, George pursued racing on the Williamsford dirt track. Believe it or not, George used to drive the young man Gail was dating at the time, up to Owen Sound where she worked at Victorian Grey Trust. (What a nice guy!) Once that relationship ended, George made his move and four years of dating finally led to marriage. They were married on May 15, 1970 at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Chesley.
George and Gail and the older girls lived in his mother’s house in Peabody as Catherine had moved to Paisley to be with her second husband Harold. After seven years, George found the courage to ask his Uncle Louis and Aunt Almira Maluskie to sell him the farm where they live today.
Tracy was born in 1970, Teresa in 1972, and a while later Tammy was born in 1983. Around the same time the kid from up the road, Kevin Klages started hanging out and helping George on the farm and over time has become a cherished family friend.
In 1991 they welcomed their first of 7 grand-children, Alyssa. 1999 was a tragic year for the family as the farm house they lived in burned down during a severe thunderstorm. That same year there was a horrible jet-ski accident involving Teresa’s daughter Alyssa, and Tracy lost a baby. The new millennium couldn’t come soon enough for them.
George so loved his animals even to this day. After his stag party he used the money to buy his first cow, which he fondly named “Pet”. He actually refused to send her to market and she died of old age on the farm. He also had goats and their milk helped put the girls through post-secondary school. And of course, to know George and Gail would be to know their more recent love of donkeys! Pepper, his four-legged soul mate followed him everywhere and was with George until the very end. She never left his side until Gail carried her to the house when help arrived.
George bought his first truck in 1976 to support his family. He also had several side businesses including growing garlic, making sauerkraut, snow blowing and selling beef to families and friends to fill their freezers. He was definitely a hard worker and entrepreneur. George continued to drive truck until five years ago. Over the years he drove through snow storms, rain, fog, sunshine and whatever else Mother Nature threw his way. Most runs were local with the occasional long distance trip. When George did retire from trucking he did not miss the inclement weather but he sure did miss the comradery!
Trucking was an important part of his life and through the years he worked for Mair Transport, B & I Transport, Hutton Transport and finally Donnelly Transport. He made many lifetime friends over the years and seems to know almost everyone.
George impressed upon his daughters the importance of hard work and it certainly has been passed down. For Tracy and Teresa, cleaning stables on Saturday mornings at 7am was the norm, regardless of how late they got in from the Friday night parties. Of course, there were also stables to clean and chores to be done every evening. Some nights the girls would have all the chores done by the time George drove in the laneway after a long day of work in the truck. Funny thing though, it wasn’t until the oldest two girls moved out that George bought an automatic bale thrower and other equipment to make work on the farm easier. The older girls’ envy towards Tammy’s lack of farming experience is an ongoing family joke.
He was also a “hard ass” coach! George would stand the older girls in front of the barn door and throw the ball at them as hard as he could. If they caught the ball, great! If they missed the catch the ball bounced off the barn and hit them in the back! A little harsh perhaps, but the girls sure became good ball players. Tammy being the youngest was able to experience more travel and social activities. They often went for Chinese Food and spent time visiting with friends and travelling to Manitoulin Island.
George had an inside connection with Santa Claus, as he pulled the Santa float in the Chesley Christmas Parade for 25 years.
George really did love his girls. He knew with three daughters, the boys would follow and that that they did, both in son-in-laws and grandsons. He had rules for dating his daughters and all but one followed them closely ;). His grand-daughters had a special place in his heart as well. He was able to catch the odd girl’s hockey game if they played in Clinton or Saugeen Shores. Regardless, there was always a hug to say “Hi” and a “Me Too!” to say “I Love You” and many, many “Papa kisses” to say good-bye.
In their free time, Gail and George loved to play cards (euchre, pepper or loot) with their card party friends: the George’s, the Luckharts, and the Hepburn/Paddons. George also played broomball at one time, and cheered on the older girls as they played in their teenage years.
Fond memories also surround making sauerkraut with Fred and Judy Ruhl. They would grow their own cabbage and then spend a weekend shredding and mixing bags and bags to sell to family and friends. George also sold beef directly to customers and the list grew longer every year. His beef was known as “Papa’s beef” within the family and was a favourite meal for anyone who had it.
George was not much of a dancer, in fact it has been said that he was funny to watch when he dances. But he did love country music, anything from Charlie Pride to Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Randy Travis.
When watching TV, George really liked programs like Law and Order and Forensic Files. And of course, his beloved Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs. While watching TV you could guarantee he had a Labatt Blue or ice tea with vodka in one hand and cigarette in the other. Most times he also had a toothpick in his mouth.
Many special memories were shared with the neighborhood gang, the Knapps, the Subjects, the Albrights, the Baileys and the Cavills. George was well-known and respected by the Amish in the area. The family was told that his death has had a huge impact on their community. The outpouring of support from them has been overwhelming.
Another passion of George’s was buying lottery tickets and playing slots at the casino. One time he came home with $8000 in his pocket and was afraid Gail would be upset with him, wondering how much he spent to win that much money! Gail and George did make a few trips over the years to Las Vegas and Nashville with close friends.
Recently, George and Steve began teaching the boys how to shoot with a BB gun. Papa was very strict about the gun safety rules, even BB guns and when they finally got to shoot, they had targets made of old mop handles and Gatorade bottles.
Working hard to provide for his family George often said he knew that Gail raised the girls, but as the years went by George’s greatest passion became his grandchildren! First Alyssa, then Meghan, Liam, Georgia, Logan, Landon and Avery. Of course, given the range of ages, some got to spend more time with Papa than others. But with texting, emailing, and Facebook he was able to see pictures often about what they were all up to. And over the last few years the younger grandkids were able to spend a week at a time on the farm helping with chores or experiencing farm life with their grandparents. At Christmas, sometimes Thanksgiving and Easter the entire family would descend upon the farm for a weekend, leaving the house bursting at the seams. Fifteen people and two dogs under one roof made for a home full of love and laughter. And this week they were back on the farm minus one very important person. Gail and the girls have been surrounded by so much love this week and for that they are grateful. Thank you to everyone who has dropped in with food and flowers. Please continue to stop by the farm, with the girls living so far away, it’s comforting to know she will have visitors.
Sadly, George William Harold Fritsch of R.R. #4, Chesley, passed away suddenly at home on Monday, July 23, 2018 in his 71st year.
Beloved husband of Gail (Thomson). Loving father of Tracy (Steve) Harvie of Glencoe, Teresa (Aniel) Sitlani of Stouffville, and Tammy (Brandon) Scott of Innisfil. Cherished grandfather of Meghan, Georgia, Alyssa, Liam, Logan, Landon and Avery. Dear brother of Helen Maxwell (George) of Kilworthy, Beatrice (Jim) Loughlean of Surrey, B.C., Orial Wayner of Owen Sound, and Mary (Tony) Parker of Kirkland Lake. Brother-in-law of Chuck (Ruth) Thomson. Fondly remembered by his many nieces, nephews and close family friends Kevin, Tammy, Colton and Mavis Klages. George will be missed by his four legged companion, Pepper.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Thursday, August 2, 2018 from 5 – 9 p.m. A memorial service celebrating George’s life will be held at St. John’s United Church, Chesley (123 2nd Avenue S.E.) on Friday, August 3, 2018 at 11 a.m.
***In lieu of flowers and to celebrate George’s love of farming the family has decided to start the George Fritsch Memorial Scholarship in support of the Bluewater District School Board Agricultural Specialist High Skills Major Program. (Cheques payable to BWDSB). The scholarship will be awarded to an area student who has an agricultural background and must be pursuing a post-secondary education in agriculture or related field. The recipient will be determined by the school awards committee, with input from the staff.Send to friend