PHILLIP ZINNAMON FRETWELL III, 88, PASSED AWAY AT Waterman VITAS Hospice Sunday, November 14, 2021. Phillip was born to James Edgar Fretwell and Virdilee Touchton at the their home on Picciola Road with Dr. Holland’s assistance, who was one of two doctors in Leesburg at that time.
He grew up working the family orange groves, while attending Leesburg Highschool. He frequently mentioned how he used to ride his horse, Trigger, to school while racing the school bus. He learned to fish and swim in Lake Griffin beneath the old wooden bridge on Picciola Road and played ball with former German POWs during their lunch break when they worked at a neighbor’s farm. His parents and grandfather ran the first school bus service.
He finished high school at a Georgia Military School and afterwards joined the U.S. Navy, where he served aboard the USS Lake Champlain aircraft carrier during the Korean war. He met Arminta Dantzler on leave from the Navy, and they corresponded while he finished serving in the Navy. After being discharged, he began working at the rail road office in Atlanta and he and Arminta married. After several years in Atlanta, they made their home in Leesburg. She taught at Leesburg Highschool and he ran an orange grove maintenance business and built houses. They had two children, and after the orange groves were destroyed in a freeze, he entered college, becoming the first graduate of Lake-Sumter Junior College in 1963, and then finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida in 1964.
He began teaching at Leesburg High School and also driving a school bus for extra income. In the summers, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Education, 1970, and the Degree of Educational Specialist, 1974, both at the Western Carolina University. He accepted the position of Principal of an elementary school in Cayce, South Carolina, near Columbia.
While in Leesburg, he helped form Christ United Methodist Church, preaching the gospel when he could. His grandfather Rev. PZ Fretwell, Jr., had also preached the gospel at Morrison United Methodist.
He enjoyed a life of adventure, earning a private pilot license, retiring after over thirty years in education, and then traveling fulltime across the country in a motorhome with his wife, Patti Edwards. He led numerous RV caravans to Alaska, Canada, Louisiana and out west. He made many friends on the road and lived at the Hawthorne Community in Leesburg during his final years, going on cruises around the world.
He is survived by wife, Nadine Chenault Fretwell, and two children with Arminta: a son, Phillip Z. Fretwell IV, and a daughter Cynthia Dawn (Fretwell) Ketchum, along with eight grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. He is also survived by three stepchildren with Patti: Terry, Dawn and Rick Edwards.
There will be a private burial at Lone Oak Cemetery with Pastor Gary Eldredge officiating.