Charles "Charlie" Richard Fritts, age 70, of Amsterdam, Mo., passed to his heavenly home on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006, in Butler, Mo. He was born May 16, 1936, to Ralph and Grace Fritts in Butler.
Charlie, one of two children, grew up in the Amsterdam area where he excelled in academics, music and basketball, graduating from Miami High School in 1954. He attended K-State and graduated from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., in 1958 where, he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. During college he worked two summers on the Alaskan Pipeline.
Charlie joined the U.S. Navy in 1958, becoming a Naval pilot who flew Skyraider and A-4 Skyhawk planes off the U.S.S. Intrepid and Enterprise aircraft carriers. In 1962 he earned the distinguished honor of Top Gun of the Carrier Air Group Six based in the Mediterranean. He was a test pilot with McDonald Aircraft in St. Louis and in 1964 became a greatly respected TWA pilot of 32 years where he competently "drove" the DC9, 707, 727, L10-11 and 747s both domestically and overseas. This provided him and his family the opportunity of traveling to faroff locations as well as meeting and making many friends. Charlie proudly served as a Missouri State Representative for the 125th District (1996-'98). During his term, he held the distinction of serving on seven committees and was instrumental in having more bills passed than any previous freshman representative. He remained an avid member of the Democrat Party, supporting both candidates and issues.
Besides being a member of the Amsterdam Masonic Lodge No. 141, Charlie was a member of the Ararat Shrine Flying Fez, using his caring talents in transporting ill youth and families in the Shriners'plane. Likewise, he used his personal plane to fly medical trips for the community when needed.
An avid collector of BIG antiques, Charlie had a collection of "crawler" tractors -- starting with a Fritts' family's Caterpillar Series No. 10 through No. 60. As a member of the Western Missouri Antique Tractor Association at Adrian, Mo., he reveled in "the hunt and acquisition" of old steam engines. One of his highlights was the moving of a bridge from central Bates County to the Pioneer Village in Adrian.
Charlie co-chaired the Bates County Sesquicentennial in 1991. With a working capital near zero, he engineered a countywide series of celebrations by securing a battery of volunteers that would rival any professional planner. He and his family sponsored air shows at the Butler Municipal Airport for the general public.
As a past president of the Butler Rotary Club, Charlie was named Rotarian of the Year in 2000-'01 and twice became a Paul Harris Fellow for the Rotary Foundation. He belonged to the Adrian Optimists where he worked in any and all capacities. The Butler School District elected Charlie 12 years to the Board of Education where he served several years as president. Charlie was on the operating board of Bates County Industries and was very instrumental in keeping it at a high standard of operation.
Farming was always a part of Charlie's life, starting with his teenage summers spent on Uncle Dick's farm near LaCygne, Kan. The acreage, cattle and machinery brought relaxation to his stressful aviation responsibilities. Because of this, he was a member of Missouri Cattlemen's Association.
Charlie was an active member of the Happy Hill Church of God where he raised his tenor voice in praise. Because he played a "mean" trumpet during high school. Charlie had a dance band "Charlie Fritts Band." Later, he performed with the Butler Nostalgia Band.
Charlie is survived by the love of his life, Marge (Stipp) who has been a sweetheart since grade school and a wife since June 8, 1958. He is also survived by three children two sons, Kelly and wife Delora Jean Fritts of Drexel, Mo., and Scott Fritts of Stilwell, Okla.; daughter Lynn Bagby and husband Jay of Adrian; seven grandchildren, "Chopper" and Lacee Bagby, Kelsi, Shelby and Seth Richard Fritts and Kevin Shannon and wife Christi and Mandy Shannon; a great-granddaughter, Raleigh Shannon; sister, Judy Reynolds of Shell Knob, Mo.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Kenny and Ruth Fritts of Stilwell, Kan.; a niece, nephews, aunt, cousins and loads of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and stillborn son, Kimbol Raymond Fritts.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Schowengerdt Funeral Chapel in Butler, with pastor Ron Dunlap officiating. Burial, will be at West Point Cemetery, Amsterdam.
We suggest contributions to American Cancer Society, Western Missouri Antique Tractor Association or Amsterdam Masonic Lodge A.M.&F.M No.141.