Former Warrenton mayor behind Jamaican bobsled team dies

WASHINGTON — Warrenton’s former mayor – the man responsible for Jamaica’s first Olympic bobsled team – died Tuesday after battling cancer.

George Fitch, who served as mayor of Warrenton for 16 years starting in 1998, died at the age of 66, his wife Patricia Fitch tells WTOP.

“The town is deeply saddened by the death yesterday of our former Mayor, George Fitch. Please keep his wife Patricia and his family in your prayers. More information will be forthcoming over the next few days,” Fitch’s successor Powell Duggan told the Fauquier Times reports.

Fitch’s latest term as mayor ended June 30.

“George was quite a visionary with a tenacity to accomplish the impossible,” David Norden, who served as a member of town council for the entire 16 years Fitch was in office and was vice mayor for the last 12 years, said to the Fauquier Times.

Fitch was the momentum behind Jamaica’s first Olympic bobsled team, which competed in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

“I basically said, ‘Listen, you’re good athletes, and any good athlete should be able to adapt to sports,’” Fitch said in a WTOP story about the team. “‘Therefore, you should be in the Winter Olympics.’”

Having worked previously in Jamaica, Fitch returned from Paris for a wedding in the summer of 1987. The local conversation was all about the Olympics – the Summer Olympics.

But he remained convinced great athletes could compete in most any sport. And so on his flight back from Kingston, Jamaica, he surveyed the list of Winter Olympic events. Later — just months before the opening ceremony was to begin — Fitch set up tryouts.

Against the odds, the team came together and would ultimately create the indelible image many remember about the team.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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