Community remembers Larry Fites

Larry Fites and his wife Pat enjoy the celebration at Eastern Plumas Health Care’s Christmas party last year. Fites served on the board of directors for the health care district. A celebration of his life was held Nov. 15 in Graeagle. Photo submitted
Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Family and friends filled the Graeagle Fire Hall on Nov. 15 to remember Larry Fites.

A host of speakers honored the man for his work, volunteerism and devotion to family during the celebration of his life. Fites died Nov. 5 at age 78, following a brief illness.

Family friend Dink Rife welcomed the attendees. She was followed by Ed Ward, chief of the Graeagle Fire Department; Gail McGrath, Eastern Plumas Health Care; Paul Hardy, Feather River Land Trust; Scott Elliott, California State Park Service; and daughters Karen Gissibl and JoAnn Fites.

Each of those who spoke discussed how Fites impacted their organizations and their lives.

Fites was remembered for being a man of few words, great patience and immense dedication to his work and relationships. Even when he was very ill, he continued to work on an annexation for the Graeagle Fire Department and on a master plan for the hospital.

“He was a very supportive board member,” hospital CEO Tom Hayes said in a statement. “He added a great deal of expertise to the board.”

Fellow board member Gail McGrath said, “He was like a rudder for the board. If I was thinking something and he agreed, I knew I was on the right track.”

McGrath mentioned Fites’ copious note taking, something that Dan Bastian also discussed.

“My second floor office is full of his notes,” he said. Bastian bought Fites’ engineering business.

Fites was an engineer by profession, first working for Plumas County and then venturing out on his own.

Former Supervisor Ole Olsen recalled how he met Fites at the Millpond one summer afternoon. Fites and his family were visiting the area and Olsen suggested that he apply at the planning department.

“If it weren’t for me, we wouldn’t be here today,” Olsen said in closing.

Fites had been visiting the area since he was 8, and many described his lifelong love of Johnsville, where he summered as a child, eventually built a cabin and then restored and lived in the historic Johnsville hotel.

His daughters and granddaughter remembered the man who taught them to appreciate the outdoors and fish, who attended all of their events and who supported them in their lives.

The memorial concluded with those assembled singing “This Land is Your Land.”

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