John Woodrow Fetzer, 95, of Elizabethton, Tn., died on June 29, 2012 at the Community Living Center (CLC) of the Veterans Administration Hospital, Mountain Home, TN, following an extended illness.
John was born on October 22, 1916, in Polk County. His parents were Herman Thomas Fetzer and Rachel Dorothy Burchfiel Fetzer. He graduated from Polk County High School in 1935.
He served as a pilot and flight officer in the U. S. Army Air Corps in WW II. He flew B-24 bombers in missions over Europe with the 8th Air Force. After VE Day, he returned to the states and married Florence Helen Shoopman on July 18, 1945 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He was honorably discharged after VJ Day. Upon his return to civilian life, he served in the Air Force Reserves until 1967, attaining the rank of Captain.
Soon after graduating from high school, he went to work at Rogers Saw Mill in Polk County, TN. In 1936 he began working for TVA at the Chickamauga Dam as a laborer and later became an ironworker apprentice. He advanced to journeyman and foreman as he worked on projects at Watts Bar, Fontana, and Ocoee Dams. He worked a few months on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, before he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. When World War II ended, he returned to work for TVA. He was transferred to Elizabethton to work as an ironworker foreman at Watauga Dam in 1947. In 1948, he was the main ironworker foreman in building the Butler Bridge for the Nashville Bridge Company. He returned to work for TVA in 1949 and worked as a foreman on various projects throughout Upper East Tennessee. In 1959, he was elected as an assistant business agent for the Iron Worker Union and served in that position for eight years. In 1968 he returned to work as an ironworker foreman at the Hartsville Nuclear Plant in Hartsville, SC.
John began working for Modern Woodmen as a Financial Representative in 1970 and served until 2006. He was Fraternal Insurance Counselor and Fellow (FICF) and a member of the President’s Club. He received several industry awards, and was the District Representative and Camp Secretary for Camp 12954 for many years. He sponsored public speaking contests for elementary and middle school students. He helped students from Elizabethton High School and other local high schools apply for academic scholarships through Modern Woodmen.
John served on the Elizabethton City Council for 16 years from 1965 until 1981. He was a strong supporter of public schools, the hospital, airport, parks, playgrounds, and public library. He served on the Board of Directors of the Carter County Memorial Hospital, the Elizabethton Public Library, the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, and the Carter, Johnson, and Unicoi Counties Human Development Corporation. He served on the Carter County School Board for 6 years. He was awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the East Side Elementary School PTA for his successful efforts in getting the school established in1952 and expanded in 1956.
He was a 50 year member of the Dashiell Masonic Lodge, Shrine, Scottish Rite (President) and the Royal Arch Masons. He served as president of the Carter County Chapter of the AARP. He was a 63 year member of the American Legion. He served as chairman of the Carter County Democrat Party and was an honorary member of the Retired Teachers Association.
He has been a member of East Side Baptist Church since 1948 and served in various positions: church treasurer, deacon (chairman), and Sunday School Director and teacher.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Rachel and Herman Fetzer; sister, Mildred Fetzer; brother, Kenneth Fetzer and wife Marjorie; sister, Blanche Rogers and her husband Roscoe; son, Dr. John Fetzer, Jr.; and granddaughter, Carol Fetzer.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Helen; daughter, Marie Bryant and her husband Robert of Ocoee, Tn.; son, Robert Fetzer and Nancy Tune of Roanoke, Va.; son, Dr. Daniel Fetzer and wife Beth of Oak Ridge, Tn.; daughter-in-law Rose Ann Fetzer, Jefferson City, Tn.; eight grandchildren, Sherry Fetzer of Sevierville, Angela Fetzer of Knoxville, Rachel and Catherine Fetzer, of Jefferson City, Heather Midyette and her husband John, of Beaufort, S.C., Lara Bryant of Silver Springs, Md., Justin Bryant and his wife Andrea, of Clarksville, Tn. and Elijah Fetzer of Oak Ridge, Tn.; and six great-grandchildren, Parker, Mariah, and Gavin Midyette of Beaufort, S.C. and Jamesen, Dyllen and Benjimen Bryant of Clarksville.
The family will receive friends at Higgins Funeral Home in Benton on Friday, July 6, from 4- 4:30 p.m. Graveside services with military honors will be conducted at Benton Town Cemetery at 5 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to: East Side Baptist Church, 1509 Siam Road, Elizabethton, TN, 37643; Carson-Newman College Alumni Fund, C-N Box 71988, Jefferson City, TN 37760; Friends of the Elizabethton Public Library, 201 N. Sycamore Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643; Disabled American Veterans Chapter 17, c/o Commander Richard Blevins, 167 Jade Dr. Elizabethton, TN 37643, or a charity of your choice.
Memorial Funeral Chapel of Elizabethton and Higgins Funeral Home of Benton will be in charge of the services.