There’s nothing like stimulating a community’s sweet tooth and being associated with countless celebrations to make a person appreciated and sorely missed.
That’s the case with Kurt G. Fritzsche, who worked most of his life at the Sayville bakery his father founded in 1926.
Fritzsche, 89, was born and raised in Sayville. He died May 4 of natural causes at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, said his daughter, Melanie Meza, also of Sayville.
For customers, Fritzsche’s Bakery was a constant. Many families were served by the bakery for three generations, including the tradition of a complementary cookie for the kids.
“It wouldn’t be Sunday morning without Fritzsche’s” has been a common sentiment from customers, Meza said. The bakery closed last year, just before Thanksgiving.
Along with his work ethic and raising his six children, Fritzsche would want to be remembered for what he did for the community, said Meza, who, like her siblings, grew up helping out at the bakery.
Peoples’ connection to the bakery has crept into any number of scenarios. Meza recalls her eighth-grade math teacher working hard rolls, doughnuts and the wait-time in line into various math problems. Sometime over the past year or so, a man bought a bag of jelly doughnuts he said was to be buried with his late father, one of the doughnuts’ many fans.
Fritzsche, whose parents, Anna and George Fritzsche, emigrated from Germany in the early 1920s, “was the hardest worker I’ve ever known,” his daughter said. He came in for 12-hour days, seven days a week right up to age 88.
A graduate of Sayville High School, he went on to further his baking know-how at a trade school in New York City, his daughter said.
Much of his life revolved around the bakery. He even met his future wife there — the former Diana Husch, who was working as a sales clerk. The couple married in 1966.
Fritzsche enjoyed riding to and from the bakery on a touring motorcycle, Meza said. He also closed up shop every other year or so for family trips to the likes of Florida and the Bahamas.
Another daughter, Diana Eylmann of Ronkonkoma, received chess lessons from her dad and helped at the bakery as a child, where she folded boxes and helped “twist crullers.”
Fritzsche started his workday while most were sleeping, with a 2:30 a.m. start time, according to his shop neighbor on Main Street, Kay Cameron, who owns a fine jewelry store. The baker, known for his generosity, always contributed a wedding cake when Cameron held bridal shows.
He also conducted bakery tours for the Girl Scouts and came to his children’s elementary school classes to hold cake decorating demonstrations, Meza said.
As Fritzsche grew older, he wasn’t interested in retirement, family members said.
When asked about stepping back and taking it easy, he would say, “I’m not going to retire,” Meza said.
For Fritzsche, kneading dough for hard rolls and whipping up his famous chocolate loaf cake wasn’t like work: “This is my hobby,” he would say of his baking.
Fritzsche, whose wife died in 2011, is survived by daughter Barbara Fritzsche of Orlando; sons George of Mount Laurel, New Jersey; William of Rocky Point; and Larry of High Point, North Carolina. He is also survived by a sister, Gertrude Sutorius of Oakdale, and 11 grandchildren.
A chapel service was held May 8 at the West Sayville location of Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Homes, followed by a burial in Union Cemetery, Sayville.