Linkages has learned the sad news that Richard (Dick) Fitts, the founder of our organization, has passed away.
Dick and his wife, Nancy, were committed to counteracting the hostility in the political relations between the Soviet Union and the US in the early 1980s. They learned of a movement, originating on the west coast, to pair cities in Russia with comparable cities in the US for the purpose of promoting peaceful relations through people-to-people contact in the city pairs. Dick and Nancy inquired about pairing Rochester with a Russian city in 1983 and talked up interest in the idea locally. Fortuitously, Rochester was paired with Velikiy Novgorod in northeast Russia, the oldest city in the country and one of the most historic.
Dick founded Linkages as a not-for-profit organization to promote the paired city relationship in 1984 and served as its first president. A group of Rochesterians reached out through correspondence to residents of Novgorod. After a long delay, the first response was received. That was followed by others and then by regular correspondence between a number of residents of both cities. By 1990 a solid relationship had been established and enough interest generated to move to the next phase: a sister city relationship. Dick was part of a group that traveled to Novgorod that year to sign the sister city agreement. Subsequently he was also the driving force behind a business venture which set up a photography store in Novgorod, the Rochester store. The store closed some years ago but Dick is still remembered in Novgorod as the American who brought friendship with the US to the city along with economic development.
Linkages is grateful to Dick for laying the foundation for our vibrant sister city relationship with Velikiy Novgorod. We express our condolences to his family. Dick was almost 97 at the time of his death. An article about Dick was published in an online publication in Novgorod this week. For those who can read Russian, the article can be found at:
or the google translation