Frances B. Fitch

Frances Burjes Fitch, age 88, of Philip, died Wednesday evening, September 7, 2005, at the Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip.

Funeral services were held Saturday, September 10, at the Evangelical Free Church in Philip, with Pastor Gary Wahl officiating, with a eulogy by Pastor Al Brucklacher.

Music was provided by Marianne Frein, pianist, and the Fitch granddaughters, vocalists. Ushers were Michael Peterson and Nick Weiers. Pallbearers were Trevor, Truett, Theo, Cory and Christopher Fitch and Len Cotten.

Interment was in the Masonic Cemetery, Philip. Rush Funeral Home of Philip was in charge of arrangements.

Frances Dora Burjes was born on the homestead of her parents, Henry and Annie Burjes on August 20, 1917. She was raised on this homestead in the Ash Creek and Hilland area in an all girl family and learned to do all the work it took to run a farm in the age of arm-strong power. She continued to own the homestead after her parents' death.

When Frances reached the age of reason, she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and was baptized by the cowboy minister, the Rev. John Wynn. John 3:16 became her guide throughout her life.

She received her grade school education in the rural school and graduated from Philip High School in 1938. She attended Black Hills Teachers College and received her Teachers Certificate and taught eleven terms in the rural schools. She worked in Seattle and Detroit, MI, but decided to come back and spend her life on the prairie of South Dakota.

In 1953, she and Edward Fitch were married in Detroit, MI, and to this union three sons were born, Burjes, Brian and Bryce. The Fitches assumed operation of the Fitch farms and continued to run the Burjes homestead. When their sons were old enough to be in sports, Ed and Frances were faithful followers. Ed and Frances enjoyed hosting travelers for Bed and Breakfast for many years. The Fitches were members of the Evangelical Free Church in Milesville where Frances taught Sunday School and helped with Vacation Bible School.

Through the years, Frances enjoyed working with young people teaching them leatherwork and dancing. She was also a 4-H leader. Frances was an avid sportsman, receiving the coveted Golden Glove award from her softball team in 1986. She participated in the Senior Games for many years and was chosen Outstanding Female Athlete for South Dakota in 1990, and in 2000 she was inducted into their Hall of Fame.

In 1988, Frances was chosen as one of the five finalists for Farm-Ranch Woman of the Year, and in 1994 she wielded a hammer along with Jimmy Carter in constructing homes for Habitat for Humanity. For many years, Frances supported children through Compassion International.

She and Ed went on many volkwalks through the years, loved to dance and belonged to the Bad River Dance Club. They also took many trips in their motor home.

Frances wrote two books, "Under Prairie Sky" and “Tinnitus, My Thorn." Her hobbies included weaving, quilting, leatherwork, and collecting books and picture albums.

Grateful for having shared her life are her husband, Ed Fitch of Philip; three sons, Burjes Fitch and his wife, Cheryl, of Philip, Brian Fitch and his wife, Sue, of St. Paul, MN, and Bryce Fitch and his wife, Pam, of Sioux Falls; 13 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; one sister Eldra O'Neil of Seattle, WA; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Frances was preceded in death by her parents and four sisters, Myrtle Handley, Nellie Burns, Mayme Keyser, and Ethelyn Clennon.

Memorials may be directed to the Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Written tributes may be made at www.rushfuneralhome.com