Although he was taken from his loved ones too soon, Roger Franklin Fry made the most of each and every day he was given while holding his loved ones near. He was never one to worry about the things of this world, rather, he was a man of faith who faced whatever came his way with both strength and courage. A more devoted family man would be hard to find, and it was easy to see that Roger was married to his one true love. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The 1930s were very much defined by the Great Depression after the historic crash of the market in October of 1929 crippled the national and world economy. The years that followed were plagued with great strain, and nearly every American family experienced the effects. Despite the trials around them, George Alfred and Lena Vivian (Burnworth) Fry were able to shift their focus to the joy they felt in their hearts as they welcomed a healthy baby boy into their hearts and home on July 12, 1931, in Whitley County. Roger Franklin was the sixth of seven boys in his family as he joined his brothers, Robert, Haskel “Paul,” Alfred, and Mark, and he was followed by his younger brother, James. He was a young boy who enjoyed camping on his parents’ property in the woods, horseback riding, and golfing. As a student at Thorncreek Township school, Roger went to Columbia City High School his freshman and sophomore years.
During that time, Roger’s father took a job with the state fish hatchery at Lake Wawasee. His parents moved, but Roger wanted to stay so he lived with his older brother Robert in the family home. When his father got a new car a year later, Roger figured that if he were living with his parents he would be able to drive the car at times. This motivated him to move with his parents after his sophomore year. Roger attended Syracuse High School where he played on the school’s basketball and softball team, the Syracuse Yellow Jackets.
Not to be forgotten during his days back at Columbia City High School was his introduction to the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Marilyn Jane Shepard, and after graduating from Syracuse High School in 1949 he moved back to the area and went in search of his true love. They began dating and soon found themselves in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Roger and Marilyn were married the following spring, on April 8, 1950, at the church’s parsonage in Churubusco.
The newlyweds initially lived with his parents, but after a short time they moved around a bit before finally setting in on a farm in Thorncreek Township in 1958. Together they were blessed with the births of four children including Michael, Barbara, Jane, and Elizabeth “Libby.” To support his family, Roger worked hard. For 23 years he worked as a plant manager at Whitley Products and later as a manager at Farm Credit Service, retiring in 1995 after 22 years. Other than visiting with is wife’s family in West Virginia, Roger wasn’t really one to take vacations. His idea of time off was being at home with his family, working in his garden and mowing. Roger loved working outside and took great care in tending to his geraniums and roses in his flower garden. He also enjoyed just driving out in the countryside to admire the crops, especially the crops that were doing well. Roger also took notice of the crops that weren’t doing well. When these drives took place on Sunday, he usually took the family with him. Of course the kids were only willing to go if they stopped for ice cream cones after! Roger was an avid bowler who bowled multiple 700 series and had several plaques hanging on the wall at Cook Lane in Columbia City. Always willing to give, he proudly served on the Whitley County Hospital Board for 10 years from 1983 through 1993.
During his retirement years, Roger continued to live fully in the moments he was given. He became an avid golfer that loved golfing with his friends and family. He and Marilyn also did quite a bit of traveling. Among their favorite destinations were Branson, Missouri, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In the fall they visited the Adirondacks in New York, and for a several years they spent their winters in Florida. Roger enjoyed making his own wine. A longtime resident of the community he loved, he moved into town in August of 2002. In addition, Roger attended Columbia City United Methodist Church and was a member of the Columbia City Elks.
With unending love for his family, Roger Franklin Fry was such a blessing to everyone he met. He was generous beyond measure as he was always willing to help in ways both great and small. Roger was so overjoyed to spend his days with his true love, and together they witnessed their family grow to include children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
Roger Franklin Fry, 84, Columbia City, passed away at 5:49 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, at Lutheran Hospital following injuries sustained in an automobile wreck earlier that afternoon.
Roger’s family includes his wife: Marilyn Fry; children: Michael (Glenna) Fry; Jane (Max II) Goldwood; and Elizabeth ‘Libby’ Hartman, all of Columbia City; son-in-law: Jerry Paris, Columbia City; seven grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter: Barbara Lynn (Fry) Paris; grandchildren: Adam Christian Kolb; Nathan Roger Fry; Rachael Lila-Jane Sheets; brothers: Robert Allen Fry; Haskel “Paul” Fry; Alfred Addison Fry; Mark Lewis Fry; Herbert Edward Fry; and James Elmore Fry.
Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m and 6 -7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at DeMoney Grimes Funeral Home, Columbia City, with an Elks Service starting at 7:45 p.m. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at the funeral home with Pastor David Arnold officiating. A private burial will follow at Thorn Cemetery, where Roger will be laid to rest beside his daughter and grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be given in Roger’s memory to Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana or Youth of the Columbia City United Methodist Church.