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1935 Colonel William D. Fritts 2023

William Fritts

November 22, 1935 — December 24, 2023


William D. Fritts, 88, of Byron, MN, passed away on Sunday, December 24, 2023 at his home surrounded by family, after battling with complications of agent orange.


William David Fritts was born on November 22, 1935 in Rochester, MN, to parents Lyle and Helen Fritts. Bill began his life of service as a boy scout, and also delivered papers for the Post Bulletin. He graduated from Byron High School in 1954 and married Gail Christensen in 1958. She will now bury him after 65 years of marriage.


Bill began his Military career serving in the United States Marine Corp, and quickly became a Marine Corp Sergeant until being injured in the Korean War. He then served in the United States Army as Staff Sergeant. After graduating from OCS (Officer Candidate School), Bill worked many long evenings to earn his Bachelors, Masters as well as PHD in Geo-Politics. Bill was Commanding Officer of 313th ASA Battalion from 1977-1979, Commanding Officer 501st MI Group in Seoul Korea from 1980-1982, and Commanding Officer Field Station in Kunia, Hawaii from 1983-1986. He also spent 33 months with the Special Forces Group as a commander in the 403rd Special Operations Detachment. He was wounded again while in Vietnam. During his time in the Military, he earned several awards, including two Vietnam Service Medal Awards, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Award, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts- just to mention a few.


In 1983, Bill retired and returned home where he started Burr Oak Angus Ranch. He took great pride in raising true bred Angus Cattle, earning even more awards in that field! Bill was a devoted father, husband and animal enthusiast.


Bill is survived by his loving wife, Gail; his two daughters, Sally Fritts and Jayne Fritts and husband Erik Schmitz; sister, Nancy Kelly; brother, Rick (Tina) Fritts; and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, Helen and Lyle Fritts.


A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, January 3, 2023 at East St. Olaf Church (6200 County Road 3 SW, Byron, MN 55920). Visitation will be on Tuesday, January 2, 2023 from 4-7 pm at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes (5421 Royal Pl. NW, Rochester, MN 55901) as well as one hour prior to the service at the church. Inurnment will be at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston, MN.


The family would like to extend a special thanks to their friends, Earl and June Hart, for being their source of haircuts and laughter! They would also like to thank Dr. William Ward for his exceptional care.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Byron Veterans Memorial, or a charity of the donors choosing.


Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Fritts family. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Fritts, please visit our flower store.


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