Editorial: A merry man departs – January 11, 2000
Story from the News and Observer Web Site: January 11, 2000
Fred Fletcher lived long, well and happily. He made others happy, too. Fletcher, who was 89 at his death Saturday, was at one time president of Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting, a company that his father, A.J. Fletcher, had founded. But Fred Fletcher etched his name in Raleigh’s lore in a multitude of other ways.
Most notably, perhaps, he was a strong voice for parks. Oh, how Fred Fletcher loved parks, one of which is named for him. During a long retirement, making Raleigh greener and more attractive was his crusade, and he carried the cause to every corner of the city. He loved merriment as well. Though his new radio station (WRAL of the 1940s) was up against tough and serious competition, Fletcher would read fairy tales on the air and do all the voices. He did other imaginative shows as well. Said Senator Helms, who rose to prominence as a commentator on WRAL-TV: “Fred loved people. He was a character — a delightful character who wore a happy face in every one of his endeavors.”
Characters, those to whom a zany streak comes naturally, are ever more rare in public life. To be one takes a certain amount of courage, a bit of the ham, and a true faith in the sense of humor of one’s fellow travelers. The audience did not matter to Fred Fletcher. Because he had the faith. He was sure he could win over any crowd, and his abiding good nature simply made him a fellow it was impossible not to like.
What a happy spirit he had. His legacy is a legion of smiles, and the serenity of some lovely parks that have made Raleigh a more beautiful place to be. Fred Fletcher would be delighted with the lasting notion that he was responsible for good works and good fun.