DIXON – John Fritts, former Lee County treasurer and campaign manager for a relative and 74th District candidate Bradley J. Fritts, died Monday in a two-car crash in rural La Salle County near Earlville, according to the campaign’s Facebook page and Earlville Police Chief Darin Crask.
Brad Fritts and other family members also were in the car; Brad was injured but “not seriously,” the campaign post said.
The crash happened around 3:30 p.m. at U.S. Route 34 and East 1251st Road, in Earl Township, Crask said.
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling the investigation, declined to release any details Tuesday.
John Fritts, a staunch Republican, was elected treasurer in 1994. He announced in September 2017 that he wouldn’t seek reelection after 22 years in the position.
Before that, he served on the Lee County Board as vice chairman, health and welfare chairman, and negotiating chairman, among other committee positions.
He was involved in many community activities. He served as 4-H leader of the Palmyra Hillbillies for more than three decades; was a three-sport IHSA official in baseball, basketball and soccer; a member of the Lee County Farm Bureau for more than 40 years; and a lifelong member of St. Anne Catholic Church in Dixon.
According to the post:
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved friend, husband, father, uncle and brother John Fritts.
“John, who was managing Brad’s campaign for Illinois State Representative, was killed in a car accident in Earlville, IL Monday afternoon. Several family members were also in the car and Brad was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
“Please keep the family in your prayers as they deal with this sudden tragedy. John is known best for his smile. We love him very much.”
And in a subsequent post:
“Brad was not seriously injured in the accident, but he is understandably shaken up as is the entire family, Thank you all for your outpouring of love and concern.”
Fellow Republicans have issued statements about the family’s longtime commitment to the community.
“Please join me in sympathy for the Fritts family,” state Rep. Tony McCombie said. “John has been by Bradley’s side every step of this campaign and he was so proud. Last night, I was with many who have known the family for years and many wonderful stories were told. He will be missed.”
Dixon Mayor Li Arellano Jr., who’s running against Brad Fritts in the 74th District, and his wife, Jamie, extended condolences to the family.
“Jamie and I extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Fritts, who was lost in a tragic accident yesterday,” Arellano said. “John was a long-serving public servant who spent decades working as our Lee County Treasurer. His smile and handshake were a constant presence at community events. Our prayers for God’s comfort to cover all who knew and loved John, and for a fast recovery to those who were injured.”
The Lee County Republican Central Committee said Fritts was “a friend in the purest form.”
“John Fritts was kind and generous. Lee County has lost a beloved man,” according to a statement from the organization. “John gave so much of himself to this community and touched so many lives with his infectious, positive outlook on life. He was always willing to go the extra mile. He was always there when you needed him. He gave of his time and of his heart. Lee County owes John a great debt of gratitude for his service that cannot be repaid.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Fritts family as they mourn the loss of John and try to pick up the pieces from this tragic incident. We also think of Brad Fritts in this time, and wish him a speedy recovery.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle