James Fritts


Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2018)
IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award (2016)
Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2016)


James J. Fritts is from northwest Indiana and graduated from DeMotte High School in 1955. He turned down an appointment to West Point from Rep. Charles Halleck, another DeMotte alum, to attend Purdue. He returned home after two days at Purdue. In the winter of 1955, he enrolled at Ball State and earned a B.S. in Education.

Fritts began teaching at River Forest in Hobart, Indiana in 1959. He married Marilyn Estrich in 1960 and returned to school to continue his education, earning his D.D.S. from Indiana University in 1965. After concluding his studies, Jim and Marilyn relocated to the rural community of Rochester, Indiana where he has practiced dentistry for over 50 years.

In 2018, Fritts made a transformative gift to provide the School of Dentistry with a new clinical care center that includes 125 new patient treatment chairs. The gift made by Fritts embodies the university's mission to provide exception teaching, research and community oral health care and is a shining example of how philanthropy improves the well-being of humanity.

In addition to being a loyal IU supporter, Fritts has been significant supporter of northern Indiana communities. He was significant in the funding of the establishment of Compassionate Health Center, which provides health benefits for low-income residents in Fulton County. The Fritts family is also a strong supporter of the northern Indiana Community Foundation.

IUPUI recognized his generosity by awarding him the IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award in 2016. For his dedication and strong commitment to philanthropy at Indiana University, he was inducted to the President's Circle at the Benefactor level in 2016 and then the Fellow level in 2018.