Former City Councilman John Fetzer died Friday afternoon at the Community Living Center of the Veterans Administration Hospital, Mountain Home, following an extended illness.
He was 95 years old.
As a pilot and flight officer in the U. S. Army Air Corps in WW II, Fetzer flew B-24 bombers in missions over Europe with the 8th Air Force.
After the war, Fetzer went to work as an iron worker for TVA at Singleton Yard in Knoxville.
He later worked as an iron worker foreman on the Watauga Dam project on Jan. 2, 1947. His crew built both the powerhouse and the dam.
At the end of 1948, he went to work as the main iron worker foreman for the Nashville Bridge Company on the project to build the Butler Bridge. He returned to work for TVA as an iron worker foreman in 1949 and worked on various projects throughout the 1950s. Some of those projects included the South Holston, Boone, Cherokee and Fort Patrick Henry dams as well as the Rogersville Steam Plant and Hydro Plant and a large transfer station at Bluff City.
In 1965, he won a seat on the Elizabethton City Council, where he served for 16 years.
In 1968 and 1969, he worked as the night iron worker foreman at the Hartsville Nuclear Plant in Hartsville, S.C. The Hartsville facility is now known as the Robinson Nuclear Plant, not to be confused with a Hartsville Nuclear Plant in Tennessee that was abandoned. When the nuclear unit began commercial operation on March 7, 1971, it was the first commercial nuclear power plant in the southeastern United States and the largest commercial nuclear power plant in the world at that time.
In the 1970s, Fetzer worked for Modern Woodmen, training at Modern Woodmen Headquarters at Rock Island, Ill.
Fetzer also served as a member of the Carter County Board of Education for several years in the 1990s.
He was also active with the Carter County Democratic Party, including serving for several years as the county party chairman.
Hampton resident Amos Stevens Jr. worked with Fetzer on many Democratic Party activities during Fetzer’s tenure as chairman.
“Mr. Fetzer was a man whose character and reputation were above reproach,” Stevens said. “What impressed me so much about John was the amount of work he was willing to do even into his eighties for both his party and his community.”
Stevens noted that even Fetzer’s political opponents could not find flaws with his character.
Stevens said that Fetzer worked hard to help him win a seat on the County Commission in 2002. “I really appreciated his effort on my behalf,” Stevens said.
“I never met a more honest, upright, straightforward man,” he added. “He was well-respected in Carter County.”
Fetzer and his wife, Helen, were married for 66 years. They would have celebrated their 67th anniversary on July 18.
Dorothy “Dot” Oaks, who also worked with Fetzer for the Carter County Democratic Party, remembered him as “a caring, Christian individual.”
Oaks also knew Helen Fetzer through their mutual work in local school systems. “Usually, if you saw one, you saw the other,” Oaks noted.
She added that the couple shared their Christian influence in everything they did.
“Mr. Fetzer always put forth an effort of 100 percent in each of his endeavors,” Oaks said. “He was a great asset to our community and he will be dearly missed.”
The Fetzers have four children: Marie Bryant, Robert Fetzer, Dr. Daniel Fetzer and the late Dr. John Fetzer Jr.
The couple have eight grandchildren: Sherry, Heather, Angie, Rachel, Lara, Catherine, Justin and Elijah.
Their six great-grandchildren are Parker, Mariah and Gavin Midyette and Jamesen, Dyllen and Benjimen Bryant.
The couple were members of East Side Baptist Church, where Fetzer served as deacon for many years. He also served as chairman of the board of deacons and was a former teacher and church treasurer at the church.