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Marvin "Bud" Fitch

1916 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Marvin "Bud" Fitch Obituary
March 13, 1916 - December 23, 2017 Chicago architect Marvin "Bud" Fitch passed away on Dec. 23 in Los Angeles at the age of 101. Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fanny and Leo Fitch, Bud was one of four children-Louise, Bud, Vernon, and Babe (Avrum)-as close as fingers on a hand. In the Fitch family, each sibling put the next one through college. Louise, an actress in Chicago, sent Bud through the U of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana in architecture. Then Bud put Vernon through in engineering. (Vern always wondered why he was working so hard when everyone else was partying-Bud had signed him up for 22 units a term.) While still in Iowa, Bud enjoyed a short career in minor league baseball and as a trumpeter in a jazz band. A WW2 vet, Bud entered the Army Corps of Engineers in 1942, and was stationed for 3½ years in the Aleutian islands building radio outposts. After the war, Bud joined the famed Chicago IIT Institute of Design workshop of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, a leading light of the Bauhaus. He also worked briefly at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin East. In 1948, Bud married Jo Beck, a designer; their marriage lasted 69 years. The couple had two children, Jon Fitch, now a landscape architect in Washington DC and Laurel Gillette, an architect in Los Angeles. Bud also adopted Jo's son Robert, who became a noted leftist journalist and author. Bud's architectural career spanned five decades. Beginning with the Chicago firm of Lobel, Schlossman and Bennett-he considered Richard Bennett his mentor--Bud started his own practice--Fitch, Schiller and Frank-- in the early '50s, designing homes closely related to his study of Wright. He was involved in the model community of Park Forest, Illinois, where he lived for many years, as well as the city of Ashdod, Israel and multiple projects in and around Chicago in the '50s, '60s, and '70s including Rush Hospital, Near North High School, Palatine High School, Martin Luther King Junior College and Kennedy-King College as Fitch LaRocca Carrington Jones. In the '80s and '90s, Bud turned to commercial work, including many graceful high rise apartments in the Chicago area, large-scale developments and office buildings as part of the firm Lowenberg + Fitch. "Bud believed you should design things so wherever you looked, there was something at a scale that you could engage with," his nephew David Lewis recalls. "Even in the cathedrals of Europe, you had little details to enjoy close up as well as great big spaces. Always something at human scale. Modern corporate buildings intentionally don't have that-they're designed to intimidate. Bud hated that." A great reader, a Boggler who insisted on playing with an unabridged Oxford English dictionary, Bud loved crosswords and mystery novels, drew beautifully and saw the world with an artist's eye. He and Jo traveled throughout the world, collecting art and studying design. He was especially fond of Scandinavian design, its warmth, honesty and simplicity. And he was, by family consensus, the world's most patient man. Bud is survived by his son and daughter, Jon Fitch and Laurel Gillette, five grandchildren, Eli and Eva Fitch, Dana, Mara and Sean Gillette, and two great grandchildren, Addie and Rachel Gillette. He will be buried at Rose Hills Cemetery in Chicago, details TBA.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 31, 2017
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