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Death of key equestrian figure John Fritz

February 14, 2012

Illinois man John H. Fritz, who played a key role in nearly every aspect of the equestrian world, from founding organizations to governing and officiating, has died aged 87.

John H. "Jack" Fritz, 1925-2012
The United States Equestrian Team Foundation has acknowledgement the significant contribution of Fritz, 87, of Rockford, Illinois, and formerly of Gladstone, New Jersey.

Fritz was a graduate of Princeton University and a veteran of both World War 2 and the Korean War.

He played a key role in nearly every aspect of the equestrian world, from founding organizations to governing and officiating. Fritz, who was known as Jack, dedicated his life to promoting equestrian sports.

Fritz was an integral part of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) for nearly three decades.

He had been a member of the USET Board of Directors since the early 1960s and an officer since 1974 which includes his role as USET vice-president for administration and chief executive from 1974-1989.

He served as secretary for nearly two decades before retiring in 1999. After retiring he continued to serve as a volunteer member of the board and assistant secretary, and was an honorary trustee at the time of his death.

A technical delegate for dressage and combined training for 25 years and a dressage judge for over 20 years, Fritz judged many three-day events and dressage shows. In addition to judging and officiating, he was the author of several books on horse sports.

He was a founder of numerous equestrian organizations including the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA), whose foundation he chaired in 1959. He was also a founder of the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) whose foundation he chaired in 1973.

Fritz was an supporter of the American Horse Shows Association (now USEF) and proudly served on numerous committees.

Fritz, a sustaining member of the United States Pony Club (USPC) since 1955, was named USPC Governor in 1960 and in 1961 became a national examiner, a role he held for 30 years.

Over that time he also served on numerous USPC Committees.

In 1972 he was elected USPC vice-president followed by his election to first vice-president in 1976, a position he held until he was elected president in 1981.

In 1982 he became a member of the Advisory Committee and served as its chairman from 1988-1990. He was also the USPC's representative to the USET and an ex-officio member of the Advisory Committee since 1988.

Fritz had many accolades over the years including being honored with the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, "Horseman of the Year" first in 1968 by the New Jersey Professional Horseman's Association and again in 1969 by the New Jersey Horse Council.

In 1978 he won the prestigious Wofford Trophy, awarded annually by the USCTA to a "non-riding" member who has done the most to further the sport of Combined Training.

He was inducted into the USCTA's Hall of Fame in 1999. The Chronicle of the Horse listed him as one of the top 50 most influential people of the 20th century.

In addition to his equestrian interests, Fritz was also deeply involved in early American history.

A professor of history at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, he was Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University's Madison campus. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees and Officer Trustee of Centenary College.

Fritz is survived by numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.

A graveside service will be held on Wednesday at 10am at the Scandinavian Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of "Jack" may be made to the USET Foundation, PO Box 355, Gladstone, NJ 07934 and Culver Military Academy, 1300 Academy Road, Culver Indiana 46511.


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