Mary Jane Fritzen

Mary Jane Fritzen, a well-known Idaho Falls writer and historian, died Sunday at age 87.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect changes made to the schedule for services.

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Mary Jane Fritzen believed in knowing the past in order to proceed into the future.

Fritzen died Sunday at her home at the age of 87 after living a life that contributed to Bonneville County in a number of ways.

Fritzen started the Bonneville County Heritage Association in 2004 and served as its president until 2011 when she gave the seat to Ann Rydalch. Fritzen continued to serve on the board for the rest of her life, with her most recent position being historian.

Rydalch, who considers Fritzen one of her close friends, said Fritzen was heavily involved in the county’s centennial celebration in 2011 and helped educate the community on the importance of history. Fritzen also was the author of several books, including a collection of more than 50 local histories titled “Idaho Falls, City of Destiny,” which was released in 1991.

Retired Idaho state representative Linden Bateman has known Fritzen for over 50 years and said that “she’s always had a passion for history.” Bateman said he had just completed a nomination for Fritzen to receive the Idaho State Historical Society ESTO Perpetua Award when he heard the news of her death. Since then, he has been told her nomination will still be considered for the award.

“She put flesh on the bones of history. She made historical people come to life through her writing,” Bateman said.

Fritzen was a regular contributing columnist for the Post Register, writing “Music Scene” in the 1990s and later wrote many guest columns on a variety of local topics, the lest of which published in October.

Fritzen’s oldest daughter, Anny Fritzen Case, said that if she had to write a biography about her mother, she could easily organize it by the causes Fritzen was constantly involved with.

“She was someone who lived a very intentional life,” Case said. “… She was always thinking about the future generation and what long-term effects different issues or causes would have.”

While Fritzen’s public achievements are admirable, Case said it was Fritzen’s top priorities were always her family and faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After only five years of marriage, Fritzen’s husband died from medical causes, leaving Fritzen as a single mother of a toddler and a newborn. Case said while her mother was always involved in outside causes and activities, she was primarily a stay-at-home mom who made time to serve others. As a child, Case said she remembers her mom taking her regularly to visit a woman with multiple sclerosis.

“She had friends of all different stripes, all different walks of life and she was someone who saw people’s hearts and intentions,” Case said. “She didn’t get smitten by charisma or prestige or anything like that. She just had a real openness to everybody.”

Bateman had similar things to say about Fritzen.

“She was a queen. She had her mind continually fixed on other people. She was thinking about other people all the time. And she loved her community,” he said.

Funeral arrangements are under the care of Wood Funeral Home. There will be a viewing from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home, 273 N. Ridge Avenue. The funeral will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Idaho Falls 24th Ward, 1155 First St. The family will visit with friends from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Idaho Falls 24th Ward, 1155 First St., also at the church.

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