In Memory

Fritz Reuterman VIEW PROFILE

We are saddened to report that Francis W. “Fritz” Reuterman, our friend and colleague in UMUC’s European Division, died on October 22, 2016 in Puerto Santa Maria, Spain at the age of eighty-two.  Beginning overseas with Maryland in 1973 by teaching at locations in Germany, Fritz’s 41-year career in the classroom and in administration lasted until retirement in 2014.  He is survived by his partner and spouse, Marco Antonio of Rota, Spain.

In the early 1980s, Fritz was assigned to the U.S. Naval Base in Rota to teach and serve as the Maryland Field Representative.  Rota became his home for the next two decades.  Throughout this period, as a collegiate associate professor of sociology and computer studies as well as the Field Representative, Fritz was a mainstay of the Maryland program.  As busy as that kept him, he made time not only to teach and administer but also to further his education.  In addition to the degrees he already held (A.B., Our Lady of the Snows College; M.S., Saint Louis University) he earned two more bachelor’s degrees at UMUC.

Fritz found his niche in Rota and fell in love with the area.  He met his future partner and spouse, Marco Antonio, there and they proudly married when Spain changed its laws.  He bought a bodega in the small town of Gaucin from which he could see Gibraltar in the distance.  Through the years many Marylanders spent delightful weekends and vacations in Gaucin, a popular destination for English and American expatriate artists and writers.  Most of them were good friends with Fritz.  He also purchased an apartment in Rota overlooking the ocean where he lived happily. In the meantime he found and restored a home in Belleville, Illinois, his family's hometown.  He and Marco spent many months there each year and after several illnesses and operations remained there until recently when he was able to return to Rota.

Fritz passed away from a major stroke from which he did not regain consciousness.  When that happened we lost a unique and remarkable colleague.

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10/28/16 12:34 PM #1    

John DeMoss

Fritz and I have been friends (past continuous tense intentional) since he showed up at the door of the apartment I was renting in Rota and invited himself to be my roommate. To be fair, he had written ahead to ask, but he hadn't received my response. This for me was Fritz in a nutshell. If he befriended you, then he was your loyal friend forever, and he took it for granted that the friendship was mutual.


“Always funny and fun to be around,” was how a friend described him when I wrote to inform him of Fritz's death. But there was also a great courage in Fritz which I think few appreciated. He was never one to burden others with his problems. I never saw him moody. I never saw him cry. And I'm sure that he often had reason to be down.


Fritz was supremely human, a friend and helper to many.

10/29/16 08:35 AM #2    

Valerie Mock

I had the pleasure of living in the same apartment building as Fritz my first term in Rota. He was ever so gracious and invited my dad and me over for dinner and took us under his wing. My father and I were both impressed with his kindness and hospitality. My thoughts go out to Marco at this difficult time.


10/29/16 10:30 AM #3    

Bill Keller

In the 7 years that taught at Rota, had the pleasure of knowing Fritz and Marco.  Fritz was always a kind caring gentle man who would assist in any way possible for both me and my family.  He was responsible for finding a place for numerous traveling faculty when assigned to Rota. This made the move to Rota a much smoother transition.  Am sure that all appreciated his assistance.

As John DeMoss said he was always a happy individual that you enjoyed being with for a meal, glass of wine or just to talk.  Will not be the same when am in Rota in the future without his friendship and will miss the periodic phone calls to him whether he was in Spain or Illinois. 

10/29/16 02:12 PM #4    

Diane Jones-Palm

Ah, Fritzy!  You went too quickly---last time we talked you said youd send me a copy of your next book! 

It was a pleasure to be your boss for a while, a pleasure to be a fell sociologist in the trenches, often pondering the contexts of our teaching different topics, and a pleasure to be a friend.  You were very, very good in the sociologist and friend categories...

Sincere condolences to your spouse and the community circle around you who feel his loss acutely.


Diane Jones-Palm

11/13/16 12:08 PM #5    

Mary Lawlor


Fritz was my friend for so many years I can barely remember meeting him. I know it was in Heidelberg in 1976, when he was teaching sociology in Germany for the University of Maryland. I must have begun working there a few weeks before, processing student transcripts in the big office just off the lobby at Im Bosseldorn 30. I can’t recall the specific circumstances except that it was my boss, Janet DiLeonardo, who introduced us. She and Fritz had met through George Sidney a few years before and were close friends.

In those days Fritz didn’t have a fixed home anywhere. Every eight weeks as the term shifted, he would be off to another posting in his blue Volkswagen van, his beloved dog Broughna by his side. He lived in the van. All his books and clothes, the electronic gadgets he collected—everything was there. He would invite you in for tea or a drink (he never drank himself). You’d be given a seat on a narrow ledge behind the driver’s seat beside a fold-down table. He’d boil the water on a tiny two-burner stove and get the soda or tonic water out of the miniscule fridge lodged in the storage section beneath the back seat. Then the conversation would begin.

Fritz was something of a polymath and could talk at length on any number of subjects. Sometimes he’d go on and on, but at others he’d be curiously reticent. I never could tell at those moments if he didn’t feel he knew enough or if he just wasn’t interested. He’d had a good education with the Jesuits in St. Louis and later at the seminary where he intended to study for the priesthood. The seminary didn’t work out for Fritz. After two years he left to study sociology at St. Louis University. He became an avid reader of theology, philosophy, sociological theory and English literature. Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky, St. Augustine and Shakespeare were some of his heroes. They influenced his thinking about politics and human character deeply.

When Fritz had a case to make about, say, the Republican Party or the Catholic Church and its influences on character, his voice would grow louder and higher in remarkable contrast to the calm that rarely left his face. A committed liberal, Fritz was definitive in his positions against the GOP, the Bush family, and most recently of course the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, now President-elect. Fritz nourished a special animosity for the very rich, who he blamed for much of the ill in the world. “If you’re wealthy like that,” he once said, “by definition you’re not sharing. You’re taking from the poor.” He made exceptions for Bill Gates and George Soros, who he thought were among the world’s few benign capitalists.

As a social worker, Fritz spent a lot of time with the poor and the down-and-out of St. Louis. He counseled drug addicts and helped families sort out their dysfunctions. He was married late in life but from early on he advised the ill-wed on how to live with their choices, cope with the discord, and make their relationships better; or how to get out of marriages that could never be made right. 

At Maryland, Fritz’s sociology courses elicited much discussion of ideology, race, and gender relations—hot topics that drew declarations from his students based on anecdotal experience more than on the textbooks he assigned. Frankly (as Fritz would say), he didn’t always think the most of them. He got a kick out of teaching nevertheless. The classroom was always potentially a source of humor. Before writing this I checked Rate My Professors to see what comments his students might have made about Fritz’s courses. I found one that would’ve made him roar: “He can be very tongue in cheek. You just have to pay attention.”

Fritz collected statements like this that appeared in the papers and exams he assigned. He loved the home-made grammatical structures and surprise phrases. Many of these ended up in a volume he published himself titled You Eat With a Chopstick.

Fritz’s first assignment to Rota in 1979 meant a big shift in his life. The sunshine and sensuousness of Andalucía were a universe apart from the Germany he’d known. He rented an apartment near the beach and moved in. The van became a car again. Not long after, he met George Freire, a Cuban-American from Miami who lived in Gaucin. After a weekend visit, Fritz was smitten with the village and bought his first house there. I’m forever grateful to him for introducing me to Gaucin a few years later. At the time I was field registrar for the Maryland program in Torrejón, outside Madrid. Fritz invited me down to Rota, and we drove to Gaucin through the splendid countryside between Seville and the Serranía de Ronda. We rounded a curve, and the village came into sight. It looked like a giant dove, its white wings spread between the flanks of two mountains.

We pulled into the petrol station at the edge of town, tanked up and continued down the main street toward Fritz’s house. When we got to the center, where the phone booth still stands, a friend of his, Juan Ruiz, came up to the window and greeted us. “I heard you were back,” he said. From the petrol station to the phone booth, over a span of ten, maybe fifteen minutes, the word had gotten around that Fritz was in town. He had lots of friends there, even though he’d had his house for less than a year.

Fritz’s house was a two story, narrow structure he’d bought from an English woman. When we arrived that weekend, it was still being renovated. We got rooms at the Hotel Nacional on the main street in Gaucin. This was a memorable place, originally named the Hotel Inglés, for the English travelers who had slept there on the way to and from Gibraltar since the late eighteenth century. The name was changed by the Nationalists after the Civil War. The women who ran the place were as formal as a pair of aging duchesses and treated us with meticulous care.

Soon I had the idea to buy a place in Gaucin too. British visitors were buying up the real estate, however, and the prices were climbing fast. Fritz introduced me to a few people and I ended up purchasing—for an unbelievably small price—the farm where my husband, John McClure, and I have a house now and where we spend winters and summers.

Eventually Fritz bought the apartment on the eighth floor at Edificio Costilla in Rota, right on the beach, which would be his home until he sold it this past spring. Some years later, he met Marco who would become his partner for the rest of his life. Fritz was never happier, never as light or confident, as he was once he and Marco were together.

They filled up the eighth floor apartment with all the furniture, books, CDs, and electronic gadgets that were once kept in the blue VW. By then Fritz had accumulated much more of the same kinds of things. The stuff was like an image of the benign chaos and emotional richness of his and Marco’s household. Fritz was constantly replenishing the stuff supply. When he came to Gaucin, he would buy little tchotchkes in the hundred-pesetas shop—ceramic bears in childish sweaters, flowers with wide-eyed bees perched on the leaves—and clutter the shelves of his house with them. When they visited us in the States, he and Marco spent afternoons shopping at Penny’s and Sear’s. They brought back pounds of clothes and household goods to be shipped to their house in Rota and shared with Marco’s sisters. I never saw the house they bought in Belville, outside St. Louis, but Fritz sent pictures a few days after signing the deed. Already the place was not only furnished, but decorated with pictures and knick-knacks everywhere.

Fritz had lived in Belville as a boy. He had many memories of life in the Cathedral school not far from the house. He went to the Cathedral often after they bought the house—not necessarily for Mass but just to see the place again. He looked up old friends from his seminary days. When the Bishop was investigated for protecting pederasts, Fritz attended the hearings faithfully. He commiserated with friends over their wounded pasts. I think this was one of the most emotionally powerful episodes of Fritz’s later years. He never suggested he’d suffered himself at the hands of abusive priests, but his closeness to people who had gave him great empathy. He suffered with them. In the local newspaper, he published letters expressing his rage and sorrow.

Back in the old Heidelberg days, in that ubiquitous blue VW, Fritz had always kept lots of sweets on hand. He kept a bag of cookies on the floor beside the gear shifter. They were store-bought junk food, but he helped himself to them as much as he liked. Sugar was a weak point, and it came back to haunt him in the form of diabetes. For years he managed the disease with medicine and walking. (He hated exercise and never once as far as I know got in the water at the gorgeous beach where he lived.) When the diabetes diagnosis came he changed his diet, cut back on the sugar intake, and lost a good deal of weight. The disease got the better of him anyway three years ago when he lost the leg. His great fear was that the other one would go too. More than that, he told me he feared living on without either leg. The stroke he suffered late last month left many of us without a very dear friend, but I can’t help thinking he might, at least partially, have wanted this: to be with Marco, in his beloved Rota, saying goodbye to the water he never swam in and the Spanish life he loved enough to marry into but complained about so much anyway. As far as we know he wasn’t conscious of being on his way out, but perhaps he knew at some level we were all thinking of him and were there with him bidding hasta luego.

I’ll miss Fritz a great deal. I’ll miss his laughter, his making fun of dumb American politicians, his stutter, his fastidious walk, his gadgets, his squinting face as he counted out money or looked for a page in a book, his love of dessert, his sending the waiter back for sacarina, his deep affection for those he cared about and his emotional generosity. Fritz was a great comfort in times of trouble. I’m glad he missed seeing the results of this election, but I wish very much I could hear his voice right now and listen to him say something wise about the dreadful state we’re now in, then laugh at the absurdity of it all.




12/26/16 10:31 PM #6    

Edmund Deaton

I met Fritz in January, 1995 when I was sent to Rota, Spain.  He rented me an apartment in his building. In 1996 with his help I bought my apartment in that building.  From then until March 2008 we were very good and close friends.  Then I left to come to the USA.  I spent about half of my time from 1995 to 2008 in Rota.  Fritz showed me so much about Spain.  His stories about his early times there were fascinating.  Twice we tried to buy property together in the area, but we failed. 

For those of you who knew Fritz, I must tell you that several times, I was met at the airport in Jerez by Fritz Reuerman, John deMoss and Juan Carlos.  Such a reception!!!

Several of my family came to Rota and got to meet Fritz.  They are saddened. 

I am so happy that Fritz was able to sell his condo and buy an apartment for Marco where Marco wanted.

Rest In Peace, Fritz, you have made a positive difference in many lifes.

02/01/17 08:13 AM #7    

Claudine Weatherford

I have been so sad about the news that my dear friend Fritz passed away, I felt no energy to comment sooner, perhaps hoping I could keep him among us a little longer.  Fritz and I spend many, many wonderful times tootling around the Med in his VW camper van--weekends at the beach near Rota, scouting Spanish villages between terms sizing them up for what became his retreat (and Bodega?) in Gaucin.  I've never laughed as hard and constantly as I did when with Fritzy. His keen observations, wit, and lovely  warm personality were rare.  Oh how I miss those restorative giggles!  A finer gypsy scholar colleague and friend would be hard to find, and he will remain in my heart and mind for the duration.  

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