James Napier Fritze
SHREVEPORT, LA – James Napier Fritze was born on August 8, 1925, in Fostoria, OH, and passed away on May 22, 2016. Jim was the son of George Max Charles Fritze and Aileen Frances Napier Fritze, and grew up on Staten Island, NY. From early childhood, Jim was fascinated with airplanes and ships, having been invited to the christening of the Akron on his 6th birthday. From his front porch he saw every ship passing through NY Harbor. His favorite claim to fame is that while in high school, he was a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, NY Civil Service, US Army, and US Navy V-12 Program simultaneously.
He was a fighter pilot and reached the rank of Lieutenant. He proudly served on the Midway, Coral Sea, and Roosevelt aircraft carriers. While in the Mediterranean Sea, he met his future wife from Shreveport, LA, who was following the ship with the Admiral’s and other Naval officers’ wives. In 1953, he married Claudia Elizabeth Hawkins (Betsy) and they have shared 63 beautiful wedded years together. After only 6 months of marriage, Betsy’s father, Patton Hawkins, asked Jim to come help at Red River Motor Company in Bossier City. He accepted the offer and has been in the Chevrolet business ever since.
During his ten years in the US Navy, he studied at Wagner College, Union College, Miami University, and Texas A & I University. His education continued after moving to Shreveport. He completed the dealership management course at General Motors’ School of Merchandising and Management, and took night courses at Centenary, but with young children at home and being very involved with community interests, he took a break. Later, he studied at LSU-S and graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science degree two weeks shy of his 70th birthday.
Jim became the owner and dealer of Red River Motor Company from 1960 – 2012. He served as President of the Shreveport Bossier New Car Dealers Association, was a director of the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association, and was named LADA Dealer of the Year in 1991. He served on Chevrolet’s Dealer Council and won many awards from Chevrolet. He also was president of Acadian Auto Rental, LLC, a National Car Rental franchisee in five Louisiana cities.
He enjoyed giving back to this community that he loved. He served as President of Bossier Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport Mental Health Association, Shreveport-Bossier Foundation, Junior Achievement, which in 2000 named him a Hall of Fame Laureate, and Chevrolet’s Southwest Region Alumni Association. He also served on the boards of First National Bank, Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier Committee of 100, Bossier Downtown Development Authority, Caddo Bossier Council on Alcoholism, YMCA, Louisiana State Fair, Community Action Program of Caddo and Bossier, Public Solicitation Review Council, Public Affairs Research Council, Shreveport Parents League, LSUS University Associates, BPCC Chancellor’s Advisory Board, United Way, Emeritus Board member for the Community Foundation, Community Renewal International, and as a deacon and Elder Emeritus at First Presbyterian Church. He was named Bossier Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year 1995, March of Dimes 1997 Citizen of the Year, LSUS Distinguished Alumni 2014, and named a Torch Award winner by the Better Business Bureau.
Jim loved spending time at Lake Bistineau, fishing, hunting, and storytelling with family and friends.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Frank. He is survived by his wife, Betsy; daughter, Claudia Elizabeth Fritze Oliver and husband, David Moseley Oliver, son, George Patton Fritze and wife, Mai Frances Doles (Minou) Fritze, both of Shreveport, and daughter, Mary Frances Fritze Swift and husband, Stanley Hill Swift Jr., of Houston, TX. He is “Papa” to his beloved grandchildren, Minou Fritze Olsan and husband, Alvin Stander Olsan, George Patton Fritze Jr. and wife, Michel Scott Fritze, Elizabeth Swift, Sarah Swift, and great-grandchildren, Alvin Stander Olsan, Jr., George Fritze Olsan, George Patton Fritze III, Scott Hawkins Fritze, and Steele Anderson Fritze. Also left to cherish his memory are his sister, Elinor Fritze Ferguson, of Silver Maples, MI, nieces and nephews, Dick and Carol Johnson, Margaret and John Wharton, Pat Johnson, Patty and Mando Castrejon, Gail and John Stout, and Carol and Pete Radliff. The many employees of Red River Chevrolet and his friends that he loved so much will fondly remember him.
Honoring Jim as pallbearers will be Red River managers, Eddie Holman, Matt Nycum, Donna Drummond, Todd Payne, Billy Woods, Perry Tuminello, Loyd Nelson, Ted Terzia, Kem Smelser, Tommy Wise, David Ray Feaster, and John Wieclaw. Honorary pallbearers are Denman Murray Long and all of the rest of the Red River family.
The Fritze family would like to express their deepest appreciation to those caregivers, nurses, and friends who took great care of Jim. Special thanks to David and Marie Feaster, Deb Sutton, Ramona Jackson, Aundra Battles, Jasmine Buffin, Dr. Alan Borne and staff, and Willis Knighton Hospice – Brenda, Tangela, Tristy, and Linda.
Following a private family interment at Forest Park Cemetery, St. Vincent Avenue, a memorial service will be held at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at First Presbyterian Church, 900 Jordan Street, Shreveport, LA. Officiating will be Dr. Thomas Christian Currie and Rev. Rhodes Stipp. Visitation will be held following the service at the church.
The family suggests memorials be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Jim believed in a positive mental attitude. His favorite saying was “Everything is Great!”
Osborn Funeral Home