United States Army (1960-1963) – B Company, 122nd Ordnance Battalion
Charles Fry, or “Charlie” as many knew him, was born and raised on a farm near Mendon, MO. He went to school in Marceline, MO, and then in Keytesville, MO, where he graduated in 1960. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in Gelnhausen, Germany – a former German Wehrmacht town during the Nazi regime that became a U.S. Army garrison town and tourist site after World War II. His battalion provided support and supplies to neighboring Army bases, and some of his fellow soldiers went on to serve in Vietnam. Some of the newer bases were located near borders to countries such as the former Czechoslovakia and East Germany.
During his enlistment, Charlie would see a lot of beautiful natural scenery with nearby mountains and traveling to several Western European countries, including Holland, Italy, and Austria. His favorite Bible passage – Psalm 121:1-2 – appeared on a tourist site placard when he saw the Alps, and it was one of his treasured off-duty memories. He was only in Paris for one day, yet he brought home many postcards, and mementos from there. Many of his buddies became lifelong friends, and their respective families would stay in touch for many years. What he didn’t expect to see – let alone read – was a “Dear John” letter from his high school sweetheart. The necklace displayed in the Zurcher Jewelry Box once held a mother-of-pearl cross, which he immediately gave to his best friend who has it to this day.
Upon returning to the family farm in Mendon, Charlie often ran errands for his father, which included trips to Marceline State Bank (now Regional Missouri Bank-Downtown Marceline). One day, in the window, he caught sight of a brunette who worked in the accounting department. He later married Linda Switzer on July 19, 1964, and two years later arrived their only daughter, Robin.
Charlie worked for Walsworth Publishing Company, provided custodial services for two churches and the local bank, and worked as an Air Evac membership consultant. His family took seasonal trips and enjoyed attending crafts festivals as vendors selling a variety of baked goods, candies, and relishes. He was an avid Marceline Tiger football and basketball fan, and he and his daughter enjoyed traveling and attending car shows after Linda’s passing in 2010. Charlie had a strong love for his country and for serving in the U.S. Army, and afterward he often thanked veterans for their service – a tradition that Robin has continued since his passing after a sudden ice accident in 2019.