June 30, 2016

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Family remembers sacrifice of hero who saved them from fire

A former Medina resident gave her life to save her loved ones from a fire.

Now, her sister hopes to honor her memory and raise money to support the heroic woman’s survivors.

Tracy Fretz-Parsons awoke from a nap on Oct. 27 to find her home in Elizabethton, Tenn., filled with thick, black smoke.

Tracy Fretz-Parsons, left, with sisters Lorraine Marie, of Fort Collins, Colo., and Lois Fretz-Callahan, of Akron. Fretz-Parsons was killed in a fire Oct. 27, but not before warning her daughter and 4-year-old grandson, who were able to escape. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Parsons ran to the room where her daughter and 4-year-old grandson were also napping.

“Esther, get up! The house is on fire!” are the last words Esther Locke ever heard her mother say.

Locke banged on a bedroom window, trying to escape with her son. A passer-by heard the banging and saw the smoke. The stranger broke the window with a garden-tool that lay nearby and helped Locke and her son, Aiden, out.

Firemen said Fretz-Parsons, 52, likely died of smoke inhalation.

“She could have gotten out, but she had to warn her daughter and her grandson,” said her sister, Lois Fretz-Callahan, of Akron.

Fretz-Callahan is the youngest of three sisters — the third is Lorraine Marie, of Fort Collins, Colo., — who grew up at 610 Pleasant Valley Drive, Medina.

Their grandfather, Bob Coode, owned and operated the Open Pantry on North Court Street where a Rite-Aid now sits.

Fretz-Callahan and her family attended services for her sister in Tennessee, but she said, she knew she had to give Tracy’s friends in her hometown the chance to remember the girl who played her guitar in Public Square.

“She is from Medina, she loved Medina, and her family needs help,” Fretz-Callahan said. “Then I realized, I have to turn it into a benefit.

“They lost so much — not just my sister.”

Fretz-Callahan said Tracy’s husband, Bill, was in physical rehabilitation for hip-surgery when the fire destroyed the family’s home.

The memorial gathering will be held Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Club House of Forest Meadow Villas, 574 Leisure Lane, Medina.

Friends are invited to bring photos and tell stories.

The details are still in the works, but there will be a raffle of gift baskets and other prizes, including a one-night stay at a bed-and-breakfast and a specially prepared meal at a fine-dining restaurant, both provided by friends of the family.

All proceeds will go to the Parsons family. A memorial fund also has been set up at FirstMerit Bank.

“I just want to do what I know she’d want,” Callahan said. “To give God glory and give her friends a chance to remember her and let everyone know she’s a hero.”

For more details about the memorial, contact Lois Fretz-Callahan at (330) 962-5896.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.