Obituary: Leslie Fritz, 1915-2020
Leslie “Les” Joseph Fritz was born in Belfield on March 15, 1915. He was the eldest son of Joe and Lucy (O’Brien) Fritz. He was raised near Gorham and attended area schools through the eighth grade, seven years of which his mother was the teacher. He had two older sisters, Margaret “Marge” and Helen “Pudd” and two younger brothers, Henry “Hank” and James “Jim”. He grew up working hard and doing the things he loved, working with horses and tending cattle and crops and being close to his Fritz and O’Brien cousins.
Les and his brother Hank stayed on the place after his parents moved to Medora and his dad became the Billings County Sheriff. Times were too tight for everyone to stay home. During the war years, he volunteered, but after a month as sent home with an honorable discharge. After the years of drought, war and depression, he and Hank settled about 20 miles south of Belfield on a place they bought for taxes. There he met a pretty gal from Washington, Ollie Smedley, that was visiting cousins in the neighborhood. They married in 1945 and soon after, an opening came up to manage the Evangelical Lutheran Church Ranch that neighbored him. There they raised their three children and enjoyed the wonderful neighborhood and all of the activities. During the 60’s they were given the opportunity to buy the ranch. They moved to Dickinson in the 80’s and sold the ranch to the boys. They thoroughly enjoyed their retirement; gardening, playing cards, visiting, and traveling. When Ollie passed away in 2005, Les moved into Evergreen Assisted Living. He loved it there and the staff was wonderful to him, even playing horseshoes and cribbage with him until he was over a hundred. He finally had to move to St. Benedict’s Health Center in May of 2019 where he lived until his death on March 23, 2020.
Les spend the majority of his years raising cattle, horses and kids. He enjoyed them all and taught his children and grandchildren to do so too. Les was a devoted father and husband. He knew how to make do with what he had and fix the problems when they arose. He enjoyed telling a story about the old times and old friends and family and was a remarkable source of information about those times. He and his brother, Jim, were honored as “Rancher of the Year” by the Roughrider Rodeo in 2014. He was also honored to be in a book about people of the United States over 100 years old and photographers from Carhartt came and took some photographs for possible use in advertising.
Les passed peacefully from this life on March 23, 2020. He is survived by daughter, Connie (Lynn) Weishaar of Reva, S.D.; son, Larry (Linda), of Hermosa, S.D.; and daughter-in-law, Chunks, of Belfield. He enjoyed visiting with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Erik (Alicia) Fritz [Pete, Beth, Stephanie], Seth (Nicole) Weishaar [Shaine, Sern, Slone], Jerad (Sarah) Fritz [Madi, Owen], Jodi (Rob) Hendrickson [Ollie, Scout], Tyler (Kayla Benson) Fritz [Janie, Cain, Lauren, Keaton, Kendall, Riley] and Stoney (Maria) Fritz [Kenedee, Olga]; sisters-in-law, Donna Fritz and Patricia “Rusty” McCarter; and numerous family and friends.
Les was preceded in death by his wife, Ollie; son, Rocky Fritz; grandson, Quain Fritz; brothers, Hank and Jim; and sisters, Marge (Ed) Schmeling and Helen Fritz.
Services at a later date.
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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment on a proposal for the annual release of pen-raised ring-necked pheasants on suitable state lands.