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COLUMBIA CITY â€” John L. Fries, 83, of Columbia City, passed away at 5:40 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Parkview Whitley Hospital where he was admitted Saturday evening.
He was born Dec. 7, 1928, in Fort Wayne, a son of Leo J. and Ella Marie (Perry) Fries.
His formative years were spent in Columbia City and Thorncreek Township. He graduated from Columbia City High School in 1947, from Indiana University with a bachelorâ€™s degree in education in 1953 and from Indiana University with a masterâ€™s degree in education in 1962.
In 1953 he was inducted in the United States Army, serving in the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in February, 1955.
He began his teaching career at Pendleton Elementary School. From 1956 to 1957 he served as a teacher and the principal at McLallen School. In 1957 he began teaching at Sunnymede School, becoming the principal in 1962 until the schoolâ€™s closing in 1984.
He then served as principal at Monroeville School from 1984 until 1994. In 1994 he retired as interim Director of Elementary Education of East Allen County Schools. He was an agent for Ohio State Life Insurance.
On May 27, 1967, he was united in marriage to Mary Louise Denzel. They have always made their home in Columbia City.
He was a member of St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church, American Legion Post #98, charter member of Whitley County Korean War Veterans Honor Guard, Indiana University Alumni, Allen County and Regional Spelling Bee Committee and Whitley County Historical Society where he served as a past board member. He served as director and assistant director of Camp Whitley for many years.
His professional memberships included national, state and local associations of elementary and middle school principals, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Indiana Reading Association. He was a life member of Parent Teacher Organization and Phi Delta Kappa. He was named Distinguished Principal of District 4 of the Indiana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals.
John enjoyed sports, cards, local dinners, square dancing and time with his family.
Surviving relatives include his wife, Mary Lou; two children, Stephen Fries of Syracuse and Mary Catherine (Gregg) Palmer of Decatur; a granddaughter, Olivia Palmer; two brothers, Paul (Nancy) Fries of Columbia City and Dr. George (Nancy) Fries of Marion; a sister, Genevieve Mason of Huntington; and former wife, Margaret Ann Wait of North Syracuse NY.
He was preceded in death by two children, Stephanie Anne Fries and David Andrew Fries; and four sisters, Catherine Fries, Rosella Wait, Margaret Fries and Helen Murphy.
The funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul of the Cross, 315 S. Line Street, Columbia City with visitation after 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the church.
The burial will be in Greenhill Cemetery with military honors provided by the Whitley County Korean War Veterans Honor Guard.
The visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Smith & Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City. A prayer service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
Preferred memorials are to St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church or Whitley County Community Foundation.
Condolences may be sent to www.smithandsonsfuneralhome.com.