Millie Frances (Fritz) Van Riper
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Horseheads, NY – Millie Frances Van Riper, better known as “Fritz” to her family and friends, died Friday, June 7, 2019 at Bethany Manor, Horseheads, age 87. Born August 6, 1931 in Elmira, NY to Ward E. and Opal A. (Carmon) Benjamin, Fritz spent most of her life in Spencer, NY, where on November 7, 1948 she was joined in marriage to Frederick S. Van Riper at the Federated church there. The couple spent the next 55 years building a life together until Fred’s passing in November, 2003. Although most of her school years were in the Spencer Central School district, Fritz graduated from what was then Breesport Central School in June, 1948, combining her junior and senior years; she was Valedictorian of her graduating class. During the initial years following her marriage that same year, Fritz worked at a diner in Spencer and as a telephone operator; in the 1960’s she was employed at the Jamesway Department Store in Ithaca, NY, tending to customers at the snack bar. She then accepted a position later in the 1960’s with the Sears-Roebuck catalog store in Ithaca, retiring from Sears in the early 1990’s after more than 25 years of service. Fritz was also busy raising her young family while employed outside the home, but during her leisure time she liked nothing more than being social—whether that meant coffee in the kitchen with a neighbor, lunch at McAnn’s restaurant in Van Etten with a group of friends, or a large family affair—she especially enjoyed big holiday and birthday gatherings surrounded by family. Fritz also enjoyed crafts, and not a grandchild went without a homemade pair of mittens or a sweater lovingly knit by her own hands; she hand crafted beautiful crocheted heirloom quality doilies as well, freely gifting them to family and friends. She knew her way around a kitchen, and was especially appreciated for the variety of delicious pies she provided at nearly every family dinner. Fritz was an avid sports fan, especially of the Dallas Cowboys and the Syracuse Orange, and also quite vigorously followed the records of the Spencer-Van Etten School boy’s basketball and football teams. She enjoyed watching the birds at her feeders, a love she acquired from her own father when he was in his later years. She had a great affinity for a bargain, and therefore eagerly awaited yard sale season each year, filling her home with “treasures” she gleaned over decades of attending those sales; nothing brought a smile to her face like finding a piece of collectible glass for a quarter. Anyone who really knew Fritz also knew she thoroughly enjoyed a good game of cards, be it penny ante poker, rummy, or a rousing game of euchre. Most of her family’s large holiday dinners through the years would culminate in hours of card playing, and she was in her element then. She eagerly looked forward to the annual Spencer Picnic, so she could catch up with old acquaintances and renew friendships. Besides her parents and husband, Fritz was predeceased by her brothers, Ward Benjamin, Jr., and Jim Benjamin, and a baby sister, Ethel. She is survived by daughters Vickie (Mike) Kartychak of Horseheads, and Renee’ (Chris) Arnold of Erin; sons Keith (Pat) Van Riper, of Horseheads, and Chris (Laura) Van Riper, of Mentor, OH; also 9 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren, sister in law Evelyn Van Riper of Montour, NY, one aunt, several nieces, nephews, cousins, and her beloved canine companion, Rascal. Those who loved Fritz will miss this lady with the indomitable spirit, quick laugh, and a penchant for humorous sarcasm. The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the staffs of CareFirst, Painted Post, and Bethany Manor, Horseheads for their care and services. We would also like to thank the offices of Dr. Mark Ivanick, Elmira, and Dr. Abdelkader Mallouk, Big Flats, and the staff at Falck Cancer Center, Elmira . Additional thanks go out to Fritz’s nephews Bill and Jack Baker, and Jason Baker, all of Spencer, NY and her good friends Josh Leach and Mike Whitmarsh of Candor, NY, and Greg Donahue of Van Etten, NY, all of whom went above and beyond over the past several years to assist Fritz. The family will welcome relatives and friends to Millie’s Memorial Service at Sullivan’s Funeral Home, 365 E. Franklin St., at Rt 13, Horseheads, NY on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at 3PM. The family asks that friends please consider making a contribution to The Food Bank of the Southern Tier, 388 Upper Oakwood Ave., Elmira, NY 14903, or to the charity of their choice.