Dakota Datebook

Chester Fritz

Monday, November 15, 2010

 

Chester Fritz was born in Buxton, in Traill County. He went to elementary school in Fargo and high school in Lidgerwood, where he lived with his aunt and his uncle. Chester was “active in school affairs, outstanding in declamation and debate, [and] a member of the football squad”—in fact, the quarterback. He graduated in 1908 at the age of 16. He had finished his four years in three, graduated as valedictorian, and earned himself many honors. He enrolled at the University of North Dakota. After his sophomore year, however, he transferred to the University of Washington, earned his degree, stayed an extra year to study law, and became an expert in international finance. He moved to China in 1915, and lived abroad for many years.

Fritz donated a great deal of money to the schools he attended. His monetary support paved the way for many improvements. Over the years, he donated large sums to the University of North Dakota for a swimming pool, an auditorium and a library. He also supplied oriental art for a collection at the library. In 1950, he granted $10,000 to the University Development Foundation.

And on this date in 1956, it was reported that he set up one of several scholarship funds for students at UND. He did have one stipulation—preference was given to residents of North Dakota, and once every two years, preference for the scholarship was to be given to someone who graduated from Lidgerwood High. The fund would grant up to $1000 a student.

North Dakota would not forget its wandering son, whose name was to grace the library and auditorium he helped to fund. In 1951, UND conferred upon him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Students at UND today can be thankful for the success of one North Dakota native who seemed to spend more time out of the country than in it. It may have been easy to take the boy out of North Dakota, but it was not easy to take North Dakota out of Chester Fritz.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

Sources:

Sherwood Monitor, Thursday, November 15, 1956

“Assembled information on Chester Fritz with the University of North Dakota”

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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