AVOCA — Longtime borough Councilman Tom Fritz, who has often been praised for his dedication to serving the community, died on Sunday. He was 54.
“Tom’s been on council for close to 20 years,” council President John Boone said Sunday.
“He was a great guy, dedicated to the Borough of Avoca in so many ways. He brought a lot to the table on council, and he was always supportive of the borough children. He was a big part of the Little League, and he served on the Recreation Committee while on council,” Boone said.
Fritz also volunteered with Avoca Youth Basketball.
“His whole life revolved around this town. He was a dedicated man. Even his license plate said ‘AVOCA,’” Boone said. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s really a loss for the borough, his family and friends.”
Fritz was hospitalized in July at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after having open heart surgery for a medical condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.
HCM is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. It can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Fritz’s wife, Diane, told the Pittston Sunday Dispatch last week that her husband was currently in the Intensive Care Unit, and that he was improving every day.
Lisa Mullen, Fritz’s first cousin, said that in addition to being involved in the borough, Fritz and his family were also very active at their church — Sacred Heart in Dupont.
“He was an awesome, awesome dad, and a great cousin,” Mullen said. “His family and our family have been through so much. We’ve had a lot of people pass away.”
Mullen said Fritz had six siblings, and three preceded him in death — a brother and two sisters all died of heart complications.
She said Fritz’s brother, Joe, was with him at the hospital when he passed away. Fritz’s brother would visit him on Saturdays and Sunday, while his wife and children — daughter Jordan and son Eric — would visit Monday through Friday.
Family members and longtime friends had planned a benefit for Saturday to help his family pay for travel expenses.
Mullen, who is one of the event organizers, said the event will go on as planned, from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the West Side Social Club, but it now will be called a “Celebration of Life.” She said many in the community have reached out to offer their support to the Fritz family.
“People … have come together. It’s just the best small town. And this is one day everybody can get together and help them and celebrate Tom’s life,” Mullen said.
Reach Steve Mocarsky at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @TLSteveMocarsky.