Fite remembered for dedication to his community

Residents in Hughes Springs and surrounding communities are mourning the loss of longtime public servant George Keres Fite, Jr., 63, who died June 24, 2019 after a hard-fought battle against cancer.

   Funeral services will be held Friday, June 28 at 10 a.m. at the Hughes Springs High School Auditorium. Burial will follow at Hughes Springs Cemetery under the direction of Reeder-Davis Funeral Home in Hughes Springs. Visitation will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the Christian Life Center of the First Baptist Church of Hughes Springs.

    Born in Tyler April 15, 1956 to Oreeta Nelson Fite and George K. Fite, Sr., young George and his family moved to Hughes Springs when he was only five years old.  Other than to attend college, Fite never the Cass County community.

      Serving as City Secretary for Hughes Springs since December 1985, Fite graduated from Hughes Springs High School in 1974. He double majored in biology and chemistry and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1979. In May of 1977, he married his college sweetheart Pamela Penn. For one year following college graduation, he taught biology at Daingerfield High School before taking a position at Lone Star Steel in the personnel department.

   Longtime Daingerfield High School teacher Nancy Loyd knew Fite for almost six decades.

   “He was like a brother to me,” Loyd explained. “We both loved garden flowers and Christmas.”

   In Facebook posts since his death, Loyd has recounted a series of happier times with Fite including frequent ‘adventures’ on the family farm.

   “We have lost our anchor, traveling buddy, our decorator and he could decorate,” she posted. “We know he is having a party in Heaven. He left a legacy that few will ever be able to obtain. George was bigger than life for us.  Although our lives will be different now, we know that George’s work is done and he is rejoicing with his parents and others. George lost his dad when he was10 and his mother raised a young man to be the stand-in father for others who have had the same thing happen to them. There is no telling how many went to him for advice when they had no father to direct them. He can never be replaced. “

   During his 33-year tenure for the City of Hughes Springs, Fite successfully wrote and received grants totaling in excess of $18 million. Over the years, those funds helped to build new city parks and an outdoor amphitheater in addition to replacing dilapidated homes for residents in need and improving water/waste facilities and city streets.  Fite’s leadership, alongside members of the local Economic Development Corporation, also helped to improve sidewalks and lighting in the downtown area. One of his most important accomplishments over the years was the construction of what is now the Legacy Event Center. The restored building today attracts people from near and far for social events. His dedication to all things Hughes Springs is what endeared him to so many for so many years.

    “He was the closest thing I can think of to perfect,” said Jeannie Adams, Hughes Springs Chamber of Commerce President. “George was truly invincible. He would take care of anyone who needed taking care of.  He was a faithful, Christian man who helped make his community a better place. He would help people keep jobs and get jobs. Whatever the need was, he would do it. He did whatever was needed to make our city great. As a community, we are truly devastated by his passing. He will be deeply missed by everyone he touched. I know the City will have to replace him, but there’s no way his shoes will ever be filled—never.”

   Among the many accolades Fite received over the years, he was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award on two separate occasions. He also received the Masonic Lodge Community Builder Award and SWEPCO’s Outstanding Economic Development Award.  Fite also served as president of the Association of Rural Communities in Texas for 10 years and as Chairman of the local Wildflower Trails of Texas for 30 years.

   A devoted member of the First Baptist Church of Hughes Springs for over 50 years, Fite accepted Christ at age 11. For the past two decades, he also served as deacon.

   “George and I worked closely together not only at church, but in the community,” said Rick Ogden, former Hughes Springs superintendent (2006-2015) and fellow deacon at the First Baptist Church of Hughes Springs. “George did an awful lot for so many people. Just like he was dedicated to the community he was the same way about the church. He loved people and was always willing to give a helping hand.”

   A cattleman for 42 years, Fite managed Fite Farm and also enjoyed vegetable and flower gardening. With an eye for design, Fite was known by his friends and family as a talented decorator and artist. His water color paintings netted him numerous awards over the years, but what he enjoyed most of all was spending time with his family including hosting unforgettable, monthly dinners in his home.

   Fite is survived by his wife of 42 years, Pamela Penn Fite and his three sons and their spouses, George Keres Fite, III and wife, Katie Anderson Fite, Dr. Harold Erik Fite and wife, Rebecca Weathers Fite, and Dr. Jordan Kent Fite, wife, Dr. Laura Paul Fite; his grandchildren Ava True Fite, George Keres Fite, IV, Garrett Mitchell Fite, Pamela Drew Fite, Farrah Jane Fite and Frances Jean Fite; a host of cousins including a very close cousin, Marcia Nell Lee, who was more like a sister; and adopted family member, Nancy (NanNan) Loyd. Fite’s family also included the City of Hughes Springs staff, many of whom worked with him for over 20 years.