Death Notices – January 11, 2000

Death Notices – January 11, 2000

Story from the News and Observer Web Site: January 11, 2000

DEC. 4, 1910 – JAN. 8, 2000

RALEIGH — “Once upon a time” in a place called Raleigh, lived a gentle giant – a man called Fred Fletcher. He was a man who lived to serve others.

Fred never met a person he didn’t like. Race, creed, ethnicity mattered not. He was as at ease pulling weeds beside his yard man companion, as he was serving four North Carolina Governors as an advisor on recreation. Many will remember Fred’s 18 years as host of the morning radio program “Tempus Fugit” on WRAL-AM 1240. And most all children of the 40s and 50s grew up listening to “Fredrick Fletcher the Fairy Tale Man”, as he would bring characters to life with unique voices and unusual vocal sound effects.

His professional career was marked by a lifetime of firsts. Among them, the first network of shortwave radio operators to collect and disseminate hurricane information under emergency conditions; first NC radio news network; the first NC sports broadcasting network, first NC broadcast from Madison Square Garden, first African-American morning man in the deep south, and many others.

He connected with the Raleigh community. His one-to-one style and personality drew people to him. It was one of the secrets to his ability to recruit outstanding professionals who, together, made broadcasting history.

But making history or money was never the objective. He lived his life looking for opportunities to help others, to offer a kind word, to encourage, to support. He served on the first Raleigh City Council. He served as president of the Raleigh Jaycees, Raleigh Civitan Club, Raleigh Sales Executives and NC Association of Broadcasters. He was a charter member of the Raleigh barbershop quartet singing society (SPEBSQSA), charter member of Ridge Road Baptist Church, founder and first president of the Capital Horseman’s Assn., and much more. Fred found it hard to say “no’.

Fred’s first love was recreation. It was his boyhood dream… to lead community recreation programs. He attended NC state and Wake Forest Universities, then transferred to George Williams College – The YMCA college – in Chicago. He not only earned a degree, he met his bride to be – an Illinois farm girl named Margie. They passed in the dormitory stairwell one day and his heart was hers forevermore.

Fred and Margie were married August 3, 1936.In the next two years, Margie made sure Fred got down to business. He completed both a baccalaureate and masters degree at UNC Chapel Hill while working on the Daily Tarheel.

Fred was both creative and an entertainer. Rarely a day would go by without new ideas coming. And ideas didn’t sit around long. He moved quickly to see them accomplished. Among them: the annual Golden Agers Christmas Party; the state watermelon seed-spitting contest; the “fishing rod loaner program” of the Raleigh Parks & Recreation department… complete with live fishing worms that he paid for; announcing the location of speed traps to morning listeners; and initiating community Easter egg hunts – and being the Easter Bunny. His creativity never waned.

Fred’s personal philosophy called for one-to-one relationships. He stayed face to face with the community. Not only on the radio morning program for two hours a day, but live on stage at the S&W Cafeteria and other locations with “Tuning in with Fletcher”. Whether as Bozo the Clown, the Easter Bunny or just plain old Fred, he invested his personality, fun and energy to entertain and encourage other people.

Fred served Raleigh and Wake County for more than 50 years as a member of various Parks and Recreation commissions, serving as chair for more than 30 of those years. Raleigh is a greener place today because of his leadership. In the midst of all this, Fred and Margie started a family. Kay Elizabeth was born in ’41, Fred Jr. in ’44, and William (Bill) Utley in ’49. And the family has expanded to include seven grandchildren, Kristy and Tom O’Malley, Dade and Adam Fletcher, Caroline, Brad and Matt Fletcher. He gave each a sound foundation of integrity, personal responsibility and commitment to public service.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Kay. Fred’s dear wife, companion and friend of 63 years, Marjorie, now resides in the Stewart Health Center at Springmoor, 810 Springmoor Dr., Raleigh, 27615.

Fred Fletcher passed from this life on January 8, 2000, but his spirit lives on: “Give of yourself to others and you will be blessed.” Please join the family in a Celebration of Fred’s life.

The family will receive friends Tuesday evening, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the First United Pentecostal Church, 2312 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh. And at a memorial service on Wednesday, 11:00 a.m., at Ridge Road Baptist Church, 2011 Ridge Road, Raleigh. In lieu of flowers, please offer your encouragement to another recreation- and community-minded young person with your contribution to the Fred Fletcher Scholarship Fund. Make your check payable to the City of Raleigh and mail to: Parks & Recreation, Attn: Fred Fletcher Fund, P.O. Box 590, Raleigh, N.C. 27602. Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 St. Mary’s St., in charge of arrangements.

News and Observer

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