Colonel Roger S. Fitch
Commanding officer of the 11th cavalry regiment and commandant of the presidio of monterey
Rough Rider, past president of monterey history and art association, Spirit behind the Monterey Path of History
Col. Roger S. Fitch and Monterey
Col. Roger Fitch was a part of Monterey. He took the city unto himself before he retired from the Army, a retirement that was coincident with the conclusion of his period of service as Commanding Officer of the 11th Cavalry Regiment and Commandant of the Presidio of Monterey.
What he did for his community was the subject of the obituary article that appeared in yesterday’s issue of The Herald. What he meant to innumerable people here is already written in the hearts of those who were long associated with him, who expected to hear of his passing but who mourn his death none the less deeply.
Col. Fitch combined in his rich personality the idealist, the sportsman, the patriot and the soldier. Because of that, he began his military career as a volunteer Rough Rider. When he retired after his command in Monterey, culminating 30 years in the Army, he moved into the charming and traditional Monterey-type house that he and Mrs. Fitch planned and built for his retirement headquarters.
Col. Fitch did not live in the past, although he paid reverence to history and tradition. As a man of action, he was constructive in the present – with an eye to the future. It was along this line that he laid out the planting scheme at Fort Ord even in the midst of his strenuous duties as commander of that post during the first part of World War II when he was recalled to active duty from retirement. A war was on, but so was the fitting and appropriate development of a new and growing military establishment. He was big enough to have time and thought for both.
For more than the 15 years that he was its president, he was the moving spirit of the Monterey History and Art Assn; and it was due to his persistence and enthusiasm that the Path of History was created by the line on the streets of the city. This orange line has led tens of thousands of tourists in their visits to the historic landmarks of the Old Town.
A friend of many of the country’s most ardent sportsmen, Col. Fitch made many trips to their company for some years after his retirement from the Army. He was known as an excellent shot and an outstanding dry fly fisherman. In fact, he had the reputation of being one of the greatest fly fishermen in America. He would set forth with his wife on many of his expeditions in an old air-cooled Franklin automobile that was equipped for almost any kind of safari.
His heart was most of all, however, in the community in which he lived and in which he saw such great changes taking place. He never let his sports life diminish his local interests.
Above all things, Col. Fitch was an idealist for his town as well as for his country, and until the last he worked for every plan and labor that would influence the development of an orderly community and retain the beauty of its environment.
And so our aged Rough Rider, still youthful in the spirit of idealism and adventure, has ridden away from us on the path of glory, leaving our memories enriched for having shared in his nobility of spirit and of service. - A.G. (September 22, 1955)
Colonel Fitch, Former Rough Rider, Dies (Special to the Chronicle)
MONTEREY, Sept. 22 –
Colonel Roger Stanley Fitch, whose Army career began with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, died here yesterday after a long illness. He was 78.
Colonel Fitch commanded Monterey Presidio’s 11th Cavalry from 1928 until he retired in 1930, making his home in Monterey. He was recalled to active duty after Pearl Harbor, and commanded Fort Ord until his final separation in 1943.
Since then he had been active in civic affairs here. He was past president of the Monterey Historical and Art Association, a charter member of the Monterey Foundation, organized to preserve historic adobe buildings, and was responsible for the orange line “The Path of History,” directing motorists along Monterey’s streets to old adobes.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Colonel Fitch participated in the Rough Riders’ charge up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt, who later wrote of Fitch: “He displayed cool daring, resolution, initiative – every soldierly quality, excellent alike in battle, in camp and on the march.”
During World War I, he served as chief of staff of the 86th Division in France. During the 20’s he served on the staff of Ninth Corps Area headquarters at San Francisco Presidio.
He was a member of San Francisco’s Bohemian and Family Clubs.
He is survived by his widow, Ella Hill Fitch, and a sister, Frances Bladwyn of Belfair, Wash.
Funeral services will be held Saturday noon at Dorney & Farlinger Mortuary here.