The Amanda Fritz home blog is back! Starting with a tribute to the great Steve Fritz

  • Posted on: 25 September 2014
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Thanks to Fairy Blogmother Lynn Siprelle, this site is cleared of evil comment spam and ready for constructive use again. Some topics are not appropriate for my official City Commissioner site, such as campaign endorsements or comments on statewide issues not yet official City policy. And, the following tribute to my life partner Steven Fritz, who died in a car crash on I-5 yesterday. This is the biography that will be shared with family and close friends at the Celebration of Steve's life this weekend:

Steven Edward Fritz was born in Frankfort, KY on September 21, 1960, the eldest of three sons of Edward and Emily Fritz. His parents are Salvation Army officers and Steven enjoyed moving to various assignments with his folks from Portland Maine, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City. He was active in scouting, Little League baseball and learned to play the cornet in The Salvation Army in Kearny, NJ where he also played guitar in “The New Direction”, a gospel rock band. He was the valedictorian of his high school graduating class in Bloomfield, NJ. His first job as a teenager was as a dishwasher at Camp Tecumseh, a Salvation Army children's camp in New Jersey where he met Amanda his wife-to-be in 1977. He graduated from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA and medical school at the University of Rochester, NY. He completed residency training in psychiatry at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and became a board certified psychiatrist, serving at the Oregon State Hospital (OSH) for 24 years. For several years he was the Chief Medical Officer at OSH, but he preferred taking care of patients over administrative work so returned to staffing forensics units. He was the President of the local Association of Federal, State, and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union chapter. He worked thousands of hours doing extra on-call duty, in part to preserve AFSCME union jobs.

On May 22, 1982 Steven married Amanda Jones, a Registered Nurse, in Cambridge, England. After living in poverty in Rochester, NY while he was in medical school and she worked on a psychiatric unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, they did a nationwide search to choose the best place to settle and raise their family, and moved to Portland in 1986. Their three children were born during the four years of Steve’s residency training at OHSU. Steve and Amanda worked hard for many years, raising their children who attended Portland’s wonderful public schools. They also enjoyed exploring natural areas in Oregon and the West Coast together, particularly camping in the Alvord Desert while their children were growing up (and therefore not old enough to complain that camping in the desert in 100 degree heat was Not Fun, even if their parents said it was).

Steve and Amanda were soul-mates. The last time they had an argument was 14 years ago. They loved and supported each other unconditionally and without question. They rejoiced in each other’s and their children’s achievements, ignored each other’s flaws, and endured life’s challenges, together. Steve relished his relationships with his children, and was a terrific father. His wife and children often talked about him as The Most Interesting Man in the World. For his birthday celebration three days before he died, he chose Round Table Pizza, and was pleased we used Scrip coupons to pay. He was unpretentious, unassuming, unpredictable, sweet and hilarious.

For fifteen years, Steve attended the annual Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert, for the past several years as an official photographer. Reminiscence from a Burning Man organizer illustrates how Steve and Amanda shared a passion for detail:

In addition to delivering gorgeous photographs of people and art and infrastructure, each year he also contributed quality photos of many stickers and objects for the Playa Artifacts or Material Culture archive. Steven consistently delivered thorough coverage of his assignments, including top-quality and beautiful documentation of Black Rock City and our ephemera in a timely manner and with detailed credits and follow-up. Basically, he was an archivists dream!

Steve was a gifted artist in photography and music, playing electric guitar and also enjoying a wide range of musical genres. His major hobby outside of Burning Man preparations/follow-up was taking photographs of ships. He also enjoyed playful events with the Portland Cacophony Society, Santa-Con, Mondo Croquet, and other silly-but-not-harmful happenings.

Steven Fritz died in an automobile accident in Salem, OR on September 24, 2014. He was killed instantly by a pickup crossing the median on I-5 in wet weather, hitting his beloved zebra-painted car. He had often loaned it to his wife for community parades. Amanda first heard about the crash because passers-by recognized the car and contacted her. One of Steve’s friends wrote on hearing the news:

"If you've ever thought your car was boring, and you'd like to paint it up, say, turn it into a zebra car? Well DO IT, people! And when you die, people will not sit around wondering, "Did she do the things she wanted? Did he express his inner self? Did she tragically ignore her inner weirdness?" They will be horrifically sad, but they will smile every time they think of you, your car, those stripes.” People will smile when they think of Steve, after the sadness is dulled. 

Dr. Steven Fritz is survived by his wife Amanda; three children, Luke, Maxwell and Alessandra; his parents, Colonels Edward and Emily Fritz of Portland, OR; two brothers and their wives, Samuel and Diana of Amherst, NY and Andrew and Jody of Olympia, WA; his loving in-laws family in England including mother-in-law Pamela and siblings-in-law Peter and Sue; and many nephews and nieces.

Everyone is welcome to attend the public Celebration of Steve's Life on Sunday, September 28 at 5p.m. in Terry Schrunk Plaza, SW 3rd and Jefferson. Participants are encouraged to bring a candle, and to have fun dressing in whatever you feel is appropriate to honor him and/or amuse yourself and others. A private family service will be held on Saturday, by invitation.

The family suggests donations to honor Dr. Fritz in lieu of flowers and cards be made to:

Doctors beyond Borders
Little Kids Rock
New Oregon Arts & Letters -- Send check to New Oregon Arts & Letters, PO Box 2863, Portland, OR 97208
The Salvation Army, Portland Tabernacle Corps or West Women’s Shelter

I feel blessed to have been Steve's wife for 32 years. I feel blessed that so many Portlsnders recognize his varied contributions to our community. I encourage you to continue his life work of having fun while doing the most good.