Fred Rathbun passed away suddenly in his home on July 14, 2019, at the age of 72.
He was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. in March of 1947, where he was raised on a dairy farm. At the age of 8, he moved to Southern California with his mother, where he resided until moving to Mariposa in 1990 with his wife and two children.
He’s quoted as saying that what drew him to this area is that he was smitten with gold mining in Mariposa. In Southern California, he was an executive for St. Louis Bearing, and transferred when the company had interest in opening a Northern California plant.
He commuted from Mariposa to Wilmington for a number of years until he retired in 1994. He became the owner/operator of the Airport Inn Bar & Grill in June of 2001 and remained so until he sold it in 2009.
He was a member of E. Vitus Clampus and is a card-holder of Matuca Chapter 1849, Stanislaus Chapter 58 and Bodie Chapter 64. During his time as a Clamper and bar owner, he organized the weed eating around and the fresh painting of the rocks spelling out “MARIPOSA” above the local airport. The last time that was accomplished, he was accompanied by Fred Wackerman days later in planting poppy seeds in the hopes that a golden field would surround the sign — unfortunately, that did not come to pass due to drought conditions.
He also spearheaded the movement to establish the annual Sweethearts Ball held in Mariposa each February at the local Fairgrounds as a Valentine’s celebration for the Clampers and their sweethearts.
He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Janet; her two sons, Joel and Jason Fitzwater; his son, Ryan Rathbun; step-daughter, Monique Matlack (both of Mariposa); and his grandchildren. He is also survived by his two sisters, Anita (New York) and Helen (Florida); niece Tammy Clarke (Hesperia) and her children Shannon, Janel, Rich, and their families.
He has many other nephews, nieces, cousins and lifelong friends not local to this area with whom he remained in contact.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Mildred, father, Perry, brother, Pete and sister Hilda. He made many friends in Mariposa and the surrounding areas during his residency here. He was a man with a big heart and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17 at Building A at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.