Theodore Roosevelt Fletcher, 95, of Trumansburg, passed away at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Home in Montour Falls, on Monday, June 26, 2006 following a lengthy illness.
One of thirteen children of Charles and Emma Grace Adams Fletcher, Ted was born on November 29, 1910 in Steamburg where he attended school until the 8th grade. As a boy he worked on his father’s farm and later accepted a position at the old silk mill in Trumansburg. In 1928, Ted formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Hod Bower and purchased a freight (trucking) business from Floyd Adams, who was also a resident of Trumansburg.
Eventually Ted purchased his brother-in-law’s interest in the company and founded “Fletcher's Motor Express” with terminals in Auburn, Geneva and on Seneca Street in Ithaca. Ted’s myriad of freight included sides of beef, furniture and all types of dry goods.
On June 20 1937, Ted married Irene VanFleet and the newlyweds honeymooned in the Adirondack Mountains at Tupper Lake. Irene joined the business as bookkeeper and secretary. The couple’s first home was on Main Street in Trumansburg in what was known as the post office building (across from the present day Kinney drug store.) Ted was the building superintendent whose primary task was tending the coal furnace in the cold months.
In 1942, Ted and Irene began construction of their log home located between Perry City and Reynoldsville on Rt. 227. WW II had just begun which caused a shortage in both materials and labor. To solve the materials dilemma, the couple built a log home using an adjacent wooded lot owned by Irene’s parents. Sheer hard work and perseverance prevailed as the couple’s home was completed in 1947- just in time for electricity to arrive on that stretch of highway. (The house was quite an undertaking and newspapers as far away as Texas carried stories about the 'modern frontier couple' and how they were coping with the material shortages.)
In the late 50's and throughout the 60's, Ted’s primary freight was salt from plants in Watkins Glen and Ludlowville. In the winter of 1972, Ted narrowly escaped a tragic accident as his tractor-trailer, loaded with 20 tons of salt, lost traction on the ominous Burdett hill leaving Watkins Glen. His rig slid backwards, stopping mere feet from a 100 foot cliff. Ted was forced to stay in the cab from 8 pm to the early hours of the following morning with the engine running and his foot on the brake until a large wrecker rescued him. Throughout his driving career, Ted logged well in excess of 1 1/2 million miles.
In addition to the trucking business, Ted and Irene
founded “Fletchers Trailer Sales” in the fall of 1963, selling trailers, motor
homes, snowmobiles and mini bikes. Following his sale of the trucking business
in 1973, Ted and Irene continued to operate the
trailer sales business before selling it to their son, Bill in 1981. Even after the sale, Ted and Irene worked side-by-side with Bill and his wife, Denise in this genuine family business until Ted retired in 1994.
Ted enjoyed traveling and made a trip to Mexico with Irene in their trailer in 1974. They also made many winter trips to Florida. He was a member of the Skamper Camper Club and enjoyed gardening and cutting firewood, until he was well into his 80’s.
Ted was preceded in death by one son, James, and one daughter Laurie. He is survived by his wife, of 69 years, Irene of Montour Falls; one son William J. (Denise) of Trumansburg, one brother Charles of San Jose, CA, one sister Joanna (Dick) Weatherby of Interlaken.
In keeping with Ted’s wishes, no public services will be held. Kindly remember Ted with a warm memory and a smile.
The family has entrusted arrangements to the Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South St., Trumansburg. 1-888-534-5446.
Page Submitted By: Joseph L. Sibley, Director