LINCOLN, Calif. — Fritz Atkinson passed away on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 while surrounded by his family, due to heart failure.
Fritz was born on Feb. 9, 1928 in Auburn, N.Y. to Frederick and Iretta Atkinson. He lived in Auburn from his birth until he went to Villanova University in Philadelphia in 1946. It was in Auburn in the third grade that he met his future wife and love of his life, Marilyn “Pete” O’Brien. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Villanova in electrical engineering in 1950, Pete and Fritz were married on July 22, 1950.
They soon moved to Southern California to start a family and work in the aerospace industry. They returned to the Finger Lakes area of New York for a few years to help with their families, but once again went back to California in the mid-1950s and settled in the Orange County area. It was there that they raised their family consisting of Susan, Julie, Meg, Maureen, Bill, and Ann.
His engineering degree soon took him into the heating and air conditioning business. While he enjoyed engineering, he felt he wasn’t as challenged as he could be, and asked to be transferred into sales at Lennox Industries. It was in sales and business that he really found his place, due to his intelligence and interpersonal skills. Fritz accepted promotions over the years into management that took him from the Southern Californian branch, to regional headquarters in Sacramento, and lastly to Lennox Industries’ international company based out of Toronto, Canada, where he retired as President and CEO in 1991.
Fritz and Pete then started a long and happy retirement, first in Monterey, then in Roseville and Lincoln. Their retirement was filled with many trips they took together along with memorable family get togethers in Lake Tahoe and Hawaii.
Many men measure success by workplace achievements. Fritz certainly had these in his lifetime, but nothing was more important to him than his family, which was not just his beloved wife, children, and grandchildren, but also included many dogs. His family is left with many memories of vacations taken in a station wagon with luggage tied to the roof and a large dog in the back, usually to Lake Tahoe, but also a few cross country trips to visit family on the east coast. His devotion to his children and dogs was monumental, and only exceeded by his devotion to Pete. His example as a husband and father was unmatched, and an inspiration to everyone that witnessed it.
Fritz is survived by his wife, Pete; his children, Susan (Gerry) Gamble, Julie Atkinson, Maureen (Chuck) Geeter, Bill Atkinson, and Ann (Marc) Ellison; his brother, Jim Atkinson; 10 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and his dog, Daisy.
Fritz was preceded in death by his parents; his two sisters, and his beloved daughter, Meg.
A memorial Mass in Fritz’s honor was held at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 in the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. Interment was in Ascension Cemetery, Lake Forest, California.