Obituaries — Oct. 7, 2020

George J. Bell

George J. Bell of Sequim died of age-related causes at his home on Oct. 1, 2020.

He was 91.

Bell was born April 19, 1929.

No services are planned.

Sign an online guest book for the family at www.drennanford.com.

Friedrich L. Gruetzmacher

1939 – 2020

The life of Friedrich (Fritz) L. Gruetzmacher was shaped by major events of the 20th century. Fritz passed away on August 23, 2020 at his home in Sequim, WA, after an 11-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, an Agent Orange associated cancer.

Fritz was born in Chemnitz, Germany in 1939. His grandfather, a cellist and conductor died in the flu pandemic of 1918. His grandmother remarried a German supreme court justice who resigned rather than serve under Hitler.

Fritz’s father was an engineer who remained behind in eastern Germany to run a family owned factory while the rest of the family fled west as Soviet occupation forces moved in. His father died in a Soviet concentration camp in 1947.

His mother remarried an American soldier and started another family in the U.S., leaving Fritz and his brother in the care of their grandmother and adoptive grandfather. Food and security were scarce as the boys grew up living with various relatives and foster families.

Fritz’s first encounter with American soldiers was with the classic nice guys who gave the kids chocolate. As the U.S. helped rebuild post-war West Germany, Fritz came to admire this country.

He immigrated to the U.S. after serving seven years in the West German Air Force as a flight sergeant with a Master Aviation Badge. Upon coming to the U.S., he joined the U.S. Army.

Fritz’s life, personal, and professional skills were dedicated to this nation. He saw a parallel in the division of Germany into east and west and the division of Vietnam into north and south. He was deployed to Vietnam in 1966, the first of two deployments to the combat zone, leaving his wife and two young sons at home.

Fritz was recognized with three awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in combat during the months of January and February,1967. Citations describe selfless dedication to deliver supplies and troops and bring out wounded soldiers while flying a damaged helicopter under enemy fire in challenging weather.

Fritz returned to Vietnam as a Captain in 1969, and received a fourth Distinguished Flying Cross Award. Fritz’s daughter Tanja was born during his second tour in Vietnam. Later in his career he was able to take Tanja and a friend for whom he served as foster parent with him to South Korea where both girls attended high school.

Fritz served in the Army for twenty seven years in a variety of flying, transportation, and logistical positions, including management of U.S. port facilities in South Korea, and as Commander of the Second Area Support Group for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

As a commander, Fritz was known as a teacher, coach, and mentor to numerous junior officers. He supported a young Albanian who served as his Italian language teacher in her quest to immigrate to the U.S.

His many decorations include four awards of the Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart. Fritz was named a Distinguished Officer of the Regiment for his dedication to developing the Army’s Transportation Regiment. Following his retirement from the Army as a Colonel, he worked an additional twenty years in international logistics with two years spent developing infrastructure in Albania.

Fritz chose to spend the last years of his life on the Olympic Peninsula making friends with nearly everyone he encountered. He loved the beauty of the area and the community of Sequim and characteristically sought ways to serve the community.

He served on the Port of Port Angeles Marina Advisory Committee and on the Board of the Sequim Bay Yacht Club, participating in the annual Reach for Hospice to raise funds for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County from whom he received services at the end of his life.

The family is grateful to them and the staff at Olympic Medical Cancer Center for many years of care.

This honorable and vital man is deeply missed by the family left behind, in particular by his wife and life partner of the past eleven years, Marcia Limoges, his own grown children as well as Marcia’s, his brother in Germany, U.S. born half-sisters, and seven talented granddaughters.

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