Obituary of Elizabeth “Betsy” Berry Fritz ~ 2009
Pioneering Alaska Nurse Elizabeth “Betsy” Berry Fritz died in her sleep, Wednesday,
April 15, 2009 at her home in Anchor Point. She was 95.
In accordance with her wishes, no memorial service is planned.
Elizabeth Mersereau Berry was born in Elmira, N.Y. on Sept. 20, 1913, but home was
Tioga, Pa. where she spent her childhood years. Trained as a registered nurse, she was
a student at Brooklyn Hospital when she met intern Milo H. Fritz. They were married in
Tioga, Pa. in 1937 and soon after moved to Alaska, drawn by the tremendous medical
needs of Alaska’s Native people as well as the territory’s vast and breathtaking
beauty. Betsy and her late husband worked in concert to bring modern medical care to
thousands of Alaskans.
Betsy assisted her husband in a medical practice first based in Ketchikan in 1940.
Following Dr. Fritz’s World War II service they moved the practice to Anchorage in
1948. Over the next 37 years until retirement in 1985, they routinely set up itinerant
clinics throughout Alaska, bringing essential medical care, by whatever means necessary.
Betsy made all the logistical arrangements for Dr. Fritz to ensure he was properly
equipped with whatever medical supplies he might need, and handled the paperwork and
the myriad details, before and after the clinics.
“While raising their two sons, Betsy’s innate talent for organization and detail were
further challenged as she juggled motherhood and professional responsibilities. During
those years, when her participation in the clinics was limited, she still played a key
role from the office, ensuring that the clinics went smoothly. She was an astute
businesswoman and ran a tight ship. Tall and stately, she could be a formidable
presence, but when not in her impeccable nurse’s uniform, she was a gracious and
generous lady, full of fun and keen for adventure.” her family said.
Betsy was a member of the Alaska Nurses Association, serving as its first president in
1951. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a direct
descendent of William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.
She was preceded in death by Milo, and sons Jonathan and Pieter.
Betsy is survived by her sister-in-law, Helen Fritz of Chestertown, M.D.; four nieces:
Karen Western of Chestertown, M.D.; Linda Bell of N. Palm Beach, Fla.; Lenore Budd of
Hinesburg, VT; Barbara Schaff of Rancho Palos Verdes, Ca.; and nephew Karl Fritz of
Remembrances and condolences can be sent to, Fritz Remembrances, P. O. Box 158, Anchor
Point, AK 99556. Memorial donations may be made to, Southcentral Foundation, Attn:
Finance Department, 4175 Tudor Centre Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, for their Native
Primary Care Center.
Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.
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