Robert Fitch, 84 - July 04, 2007
Robert “Bob” Fitch, 84, formerly of Farnam and Gothenburg, died May 30, 2007, at Riverside, CA.
Memorial services were held on June 6 at the first United Methodist Church at Riverside. Burial was at the Riverside National Cemetery.
Fitch was born on March 2, 1923, at Farnam to Charlotte (Ainlay) and William Fitch, the youngest of eight children.
He graduated from Gothenburg High School in 1940, and moved to Riverside in 1941 to attend Riverside Junior College.
Upon graduation, he entered the military service and was commissioned an officer in the Army Air Corps. He served as a P-38 fighter pilot with the 326th Fighter Ferry Squadron during World War II. He retired as a major, USAF, in 1984.
During his pilot training, he was united in marriage to Lois Kriege at the First United Methodist Church at Riverside, where the couple were members of the church choir.
Fitch received a bachelor degree from the University of Redlands and a master’s degree from University of Southern California in public administration.
He had worked for the county of Riverside for 34 years, beginning his government career in 1950 as a deputy probation officer working with youth at Twin Pines Boys Ranch, a juvenile detention center in the San Jacinto Mountains.
He served as the county’s first juvenile court referee, and in 1963, served as the county’s first assistant administrative officer.
In 1983, he proposed consolidating three county departments into the Economic Development Agency, which operates today.
Fitch was appointed by the board of supervisors as chief administrative officer, a position he held for seven years until his retirement in 1984, when he became involved in philanthropic work.
In 1987, he was appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and the Riverside City Council to chair the Riverside City/County Commission for the celebration of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
Following 46 years of marriage, his wife Lois died in 1990.
In 1993, he was appointed to chair the Advisory Board/Foundation to plan the Riverside County’s 100th birthday celebration.
Fitch married Kathryn Wright in 1993 at the first United Methodist Church. The couple were actively involved in church and community activities until her death on Jan. 21, 2007.
Fitch wrote two books about Riverside County’s history: “Roman Warren: Cowboy Aviator,” the true story of a resident who flew his small plane under the arch of the Mission Bridge in Riverside in 1926; and “Profile of a Century: Riverside County, California, 1893-1993,” which includes information on hundreds of county officials who served during that time.
Fitch was the founding director and chairman of the Library Foundation and had recently completed the Veteran’s Oral History Project, and was a member of the Friends of the Riverside Library.
He served as a member and former president of the executive board of the March Field Air Museum, and was active in museum fund-raising projects. He was a life member of the P-38 National Association.
Fitch served as president of the Riverside Chapters of the United Way, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Kiwanis Club, Riverside Community Foundation, the Council on Finance of the United Methodist Church Conference, and was a past member of the board of directors, the YMCA and the Janet Goeske Community Center. He was a current member of the International Relations Council, Daedalions, the Historical Society, Riverside men’s breakfast forum, Kiwanis and a Meals on Wheels volunteer as well as a long-time church choir member and current archivist.
Fitch was devoted to his family, friends, church and community with kindness, generosity and integrity in helping others, said family members.
He was preceded in death by: his parents; his first wife, Lois; his wife, Kathryn; sisters—Genevieve Shelton, Glenvose McCormick, Doris Smith and Lucille Hyde; brothers—Ronald Fitch, Gene Fitch and Bill Fitch.
Survivors include: his daughters—Cheryl Briggs of Ashland, OR, and Marsha Green of Frazier Park; three grandchildren—Jeff Briggs, Melissa Cobb and Sara Green; several nieces and nephews, those from Nebraska include—Ardyce Bick of Moorefield, Janet (John) Wightman of Lexington and Tom Hyde of St. Paul.
Memorials are suggested to the Fitch/Kriege Memorial Scholarship Fund: c/o First United Methodist Church, 4845 Brockton Ave., Riverside, CA, 951-683-7831.