Bertha (Bert) Rickert Fritz, formerly of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, passed away on Thursday, December 10, at her home in Frederick, Maryland.   She was 81-years-old.  Bert fought a courageous 14-month battle with an aggressive form of melanoma.
Until the end, she never allowed this horrible disease to dampen her spirit for life, and the love she had for her family and many dear friends.

Bert was born on September 30, 1928, in Spring City, PA, by a mid-wife in her family home to her mother, Lavina Nonemaker Porter and father, Wilmer Hipple Porter.   She and her family subsequently moved to Pottstown where she later said that “she felt like she was in heaven,” because her new home had indoor plumbing. 

As a child, Bert and her late sister, Betty, used to enjoy winter nights in front of the radio listening to their favorite shows, “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy,” and “The Green Hornet.”  They had no television or telephone.  When the weather turned nice, Bert and her girlfriends played traditional games such as “jacks,” hop scotch, red light, and hide and seek.  The boys, she observed, preferred marbles.

Bert was a member of the Pottstown High School class of 1946.  She was 18-years-old when she married the late Harold (“Smokey”) Rickert at the Old Church in Valley Forge Park.  The newlyweds resided with her in-laws at the Rickert Homestead in Stowe, PA.  Bert and Smokey had three children, Thomas Rickert, age 60, Donna Rickert Hillman, age 59, and Jack Rickert, age 46.   The family enjoyed annual vacations to the Jersey Shore in Wildwood, NJ, with friends Lorraine and Roy Dentler and their children.

Bert was widowed young when Smokey Rickert tragically died of a heart attack in 1970 at age 45, while he was in Detroit performing Union business.   Despite the loss of her husband and bread-winner, Bert was able to make ends meet sufficiently so that her children were never left wanting for anything.

Bert worked for 20 years at Pottstown’s Sunnybrook Ballroom and Restaurant, which was then famous for hosting acts from the “Big Band” era.  Her pleasant demeanor and outrageous sense of humor made her a Sunnybrook favorite among her customers and co-workers. 

It was at Sunnybrook that she met her second husband, the late Larry Lee Fritz.  They were married in May 1996 and honeymooned at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville.  Sadly, Larry Lee Fritz died only three years later, thus making Bert a widow for the second time.

In a few years, Bert moved in with her youngest son’s family in Frederick, Maryland.  It was tough on her living away from the Pottstown area for the first time in 75 years, but she still managed to drive to Pottstown once a month to visit her old friends. 

As the cancer progressed, Bert’s many dear friends visited her on a daily basis.  She was energized by this fine company of friends. 

Bert Rickert Fritz is survived by her children, Thomas Rickert, Donna Rickert Hillman, and Jack Rickert; grandchildren, Craig Rhoads,  Lindsay Stufflet Daugherty, Rachel Rickert, David Rickert, and John Rickert; in-laws Marie Barna Rickert, Harold Hillman, and Jill Rickert.

The family will receive friends at their Frederick home from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 13th at 6474 Saddlebrook Lane, Frederick, MD. 

Funeral services will be held at the Cavalry Baptist Church in Pottstown, PA, on Wednesday December 16, 2009, 10:00AM with Pastor Jim Spears officiating. Family and friends may call on Wednesday from 9:30AM to 10:00AM at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Hospice of Frederick County, 516 Trail Avenue, PO Box 1799, Frederick, MD 21702.

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