Nicholas A. Fittinghoff, Jr., age 88, of Davis, CA, died peacefully at home on Friday, September 8th, 2023, surrounded by family. Nick was born December 12, 1934 in Baguio, Philippines. His father, Nicholas A. Fittinghoff, Sr. was a Russian nobleman who, after his family fled revolutionary Russia, had earned a degree in engineering and metallurgy from UC Berkeley and, at the time of Nick’s birth, managed mines in the mountains of the island of Luzon. His mother, Randalin Fittinghoff (neé Trippell) was an independent, intellectual woman who had grown up on a ranch in Colorado and earned a Master’s degree in English at Berkeley, a rarity for women at the time.
Nick created a rich and fulfilling life, despite a chaotic childhood, marred by his parents’ divorce, World War II, and his father’s long absence. Nick’s father sent his family safely to the United States, but he became a prisoner of war in Manila for over three years. When Nick was a junior in high school, his mother died very unexpectedly. The following year because he had skipped two grades, Nick enrolled at UC Berkeley at the age of 16.
Nick earned a BA in English from Berkeley specializing in poetry and Shakespeare. He took a job with Caterpillar at its headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, where he worked as a writer before being drafted into the US Army. Nick was stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA, where he became active in the social life of the army base and joined an amateur theater production. His character’s love interest was played by Sandra Riley, daughter of an army officer. Six weeks after meeting her, Nick proposed to Sandy. They married when Nick’s time in the army ended and had been happily married more than 63 years at the time of his death.
After marriage, Nick returned to his job in Illinois where he and Sandy welcomed three children, but he found the work unsatisfying. At the age of 33, he entered graduate school, earning a PhD in biological anthropology from UC Davis. As part of his dissertation work, he took his family with him to the rainforest in Borneo where he studied primate behavior. This was an unforgettable adventure and instilled in his children a permanent love of the natural world.
Nick returned from Borneo ready to hit the job market, but the country was rocked by the energy crisis of the 1970’s and jobs in anthropology were rare. He parlayed a love of mathematics, writing skills, and teaching experience into a job with the state of California using statistics to analyze the efficacy of licensing board tests. He claimed it sounded dry, but he enjoyed working with the wide variety of people he met all over the state, including veterinarians, optometrists, and private investigators.
Nick was characterized by a great capacity for love, a lively intellectual curiosity, a wry wit, an adventurous spirit, and an appreciation for simple pleasures (good food, good wine, his backyard garden). In retirement, he and Sandy indulged their love of adventure and nature, birdwatching at locations all over the country, including multiple trips to Alaska and Arizona in pursuit of unusual sightings. He read widely on science and politics and had a particular appreciation of mystery novels. He enjoyed watching sports of all kinds, including golf, tennis, and his beloved San Francisco 49ers. Most of all, he loved being with his family, all of whom valued his love, loved him back, and will miss him forever.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra R. Fittinghoff of Davis, California, daughter Catherine Lohmann (husband Kenneth) of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, son Stephen Fittinghoff (wife Leslie) of Eureka, California, son David Fittinghoff (wife Lisa) of Livermore, California, his sister Renee Fittinghoff of Mill Valley, California, and 5 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his younger brother, Gregory.
The family asks that you remember him by enjoying nature, hugging someone you love, and raising a glass to a life well-lived.
In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome donations to the Yolo Audubon Society (https://yoloaudubon.org/join-renew-donate/) or the charity of your choice.