The Rev. Charles P. Fritchey, 84, received his ultimate healing entering Heavens Gates on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Fort Smith where he so anxiously longed to meet Jesus and his many relatives and friends. He was born Feb. 14, 1933, in Van Buren to the late Rev. T. R. Fritchey and Laura Bell (Palmer) Fritchey.
He is survived by his loving wife of almost 64 years, Willa Dean (Atwell) Fritchey; and a son, Gregg and wife Michelle of Massachusetts, and their children, Christy and husband Michael and their three children, Devin and wife Chrystal and daughter. He leaves behind a beloved daughter, Rebecca Ann and husband Daniel Garnes of Barling, who was like a son to him always there to help him anyway he could. He also leaves behind four sisters, Virginia and husband Dwight Morland, Marie and husband Bob Tackett, Evelyn McEwen, Paula Sue and Sam, and many nieces and nephews. There are also many relatives and friends who will miss him greatly.
He grew up on a farm and loved planting and watching things grow which he did for most of his life. He grew and sold produce all over the state of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Michigan. It was said of him in packing the vegetables that what he sold you could count on him to always give a good honest pack with no shortage and the same quality all the way through which was very important to the buyers.
He grew up in Crawford County and attended schools in Alma and Van Buren. He joined the Army in 1951 and proudly served his country in the Korean War. At the age of 15 years, while plowing the mules, he received his call to the Ministry, which lasted for over 60 years. He started his Ministry as a deacon at the Sunnyside Assembly of God Church where he met the love of his life, Willa Dean Atwell who was visiting from California. Her uncle, Rev. George Hatton was the Pastor of the Church there and so after church he asked her out for a coke and that started their romance which lasted for over 66 years. Their dating was going to Church almost every night somewhere where she played the piano and they sang specials. They were married at Paris, Ark., Feb. 18, 1954, by the Rev. George Hatton.
Later they moved to Caruthers, Calif., where her parents, Leonard and Ethel Atwell, lived and he became the youth pastor at the Caruthers Assembly of God Church where he served until they started traveling as evangelist across the state of California. His ministry included preaching at conventions, camp meetings, Bible conferences, couples retreats, full gospel men’s fellowships, weddings and funerals. He pastored churches in Arkansas, California and Michigan and mentored many young people who are in the ministry today. He also traveled across the country evangelizing anywhere the doors opened. He loved being with and helping people of all faiths and races and never met a stranger.
His passion was reaching people with the gospel and was considered by many to be an old-fashioned preacher who preached the pure unadulterated Word of God that still delivers and heals today.
He was preceded in death by their four babies, Charles Randal at age 9 months, Cynthia Diane at age 6 months, Karen Sue at age 3 1/2 months and Elizabeth Ann at age 16 months; his parents, Rev. T. R. Fritchey and Laura Bell Fritchey; a sister, Marjorie Webb; and a brother, John Fritchey.
Funeral service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at River of Life Fellowship in Fort Smith with interment to follow at Gill Cemetery in Van Buren under the direction of Edwards Van-Alma Funeral Home of Van Buren, AR.
Pallbearers will be Don Reed, Jerry Adamson, Gary Hofer, David Tucker, Mark McCoy and Israel Curry.
To place an online tribute, go to www.edwardsvan-alma.com.