Early on the morning of June 3rd, George Fry “slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings”* as he passed from this life into eternity after a brief illness. He was 91. George was born in Calumet, Oklahoma on November 3, 1931 and by 1934 he and his family had worked their way west to escape the hardships of the Dust Bowl. His family arrived in Farmersville in California's Central Valley in just east of Visalia when he was 4 years old and where his father found work as a migrant farm worker. George grew up moving often as his father chased work where he could find it, often in construction. His family moved back to Farmersville when he was in junior high and it was there that he fell in love with planes as they flew their training runs out of the US naval base in Lemoore during World War 2. George graduated from Pacific Grove High School in 1949. In 1952 he met Connie Caldwell at San Jose State and 9 months later they were wed. Together they shared 62 years of a blessed marriage and four children: Rebecca (Fry) Nation (and beloved son-in-law Ken Nation), Gail Fry, Mary Fry, and son George Fry who preceded him in death. George also leaves behind grandchildren Jack Nation and wife Ashley (great-grandsons Seth and Joshua), Patrick Nation and wife Michelle (great granddaughters Abigail and Kaylee), Jeremy Nation, and Raegan Fry.
George was a Presbyterian minister, a religion and philosophy instructor at two community colleges, a private pilot, a nature lover, an athlete in his earlier years, and a wonderful family man. He earned his Master's of Theology Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1963 after earning his Bachelors and Masters of Divinity from Dubuque Theological Seminary. He served as pastor in churches in rural Illinois; Reading, Pennsylvania; Sparks, Nevada; Portland, Oregon; Las Cruces and Santa Teresa, New Mexico; El Paso, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (he and Connie lived there at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing); and finally he served as a much-loved Minister to the Seniors in Visalia. He found great inspiration in nature, enjoyed trips to Yokohl Valley to watch the hawks, and golfing with his buddies, but his greatest passion was flying. He owned several small airplanes over the years and restored many of them and loved regaling his family with stories of how he overcame close calls in the sky.
He is now dancing in the presence of the God he served so well, free of pain and reunited with those he loved. We will all miss his sense of humor which he kept to the end, his generosity, his intelligence, wit, wise counsel, and most of all, his love. He is already missed and we will always love him.
*“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.