Archie Fletcher, an icon in the Chicago film industry and co-founder of Fletcher Camera, died suddenly on Wednesday, June 22, 2023 after driving himself to get his hair cut in Lake Bluff. He was 90 years old.
Archie suffered with congestive heart disease that really slowed him down, but he did what he could and went to the health club that morning, as he did 4 days a week.
“He was 95% mentally sound.” said Tom Fletcher, Archie’s youngest son and partner in Fletcher Camera. “He may forget a name here and there, but at the same time he would correct me on names and dates.”
“The congestive heart failure really slowed him down and caused him to be short of breath so he often used a walker or a little scooter to get around,” said Tom. “He had just gotten his haircut and walked back to his car. I guess the short walk was just too much on his heart. When he got into his car he had a heart attack. His wife, Kathy was with him and he passed peacefully.”
Archie Fletcher was an icon in the Chicago film industry. After spending a long career in sales and management for large corporations and lighting companies such as Westinghouse, Hub Electric, and Strand Century, on July 5, 1987, at the age of 55, Archie started Fletcher Chicago with his son, Tom. Soon after, Archie’s daughter Sally joined the team.
Tom describes their early days at Fletcher Camera, “I had the hustle and Archie had the business savvy.”
With an initial inventory investment of $7,500 they outfitted a snug 800-sq ft River North office on the second floor of 311 W Superior St with a small array of lighting, audio, and camera accessories for sale and rental.
Two years later, as their rental business increased, they made a move to 1062 W Huron St, and then expanded to 1060 and 1050 and took over the whole end of the block.
“We started out being a high-end audio house between coasts but we couldn’t exist on just audio rentals alone,” said Tom. “We expanded to cameras 1994.”
Fletcher soon became the biggest field acquisition house in the city.
The big move came in July of 1999 when, joining a growing number of production companies on Goose Island, they took over the space at 1000 N Branch, a one-time scrap metal yard. This third move in 12 years of business was a major expansion, spreading into 24,000 sq ft of space with a 20,000 sq ft parking lot.
On their twentieth anniversary, Archie, Tom, and Sally hosted a lavish luncheon on their patio by the Chicago River to celebrate with their 25 employees — that included partner Dan Grainge, general manager Zoe Borys, rental manager Stan Glapa, and sales manager Kari Hess. The company had grown into the biggest high-end camera sales and rental outlet in the Midwest, with $20 million worth of inventory housed in the sprawling 24,000 sq. ft. building on Goose Island.
“Archie really had a passion for the film community,” Tom said. “Fletcher was kind of the centerpiece for a lot of events ITVA, IPA, DGA training, Local 600, union training, and our facility was the landing spot for a lot of major film and TV productions. I think one of the things Archie was most proud of was all of the educational events we did, training the community of the industry. That was so important to him.”
Archie finally decided to retire at age 83.
Services for Archie Fletcher will be held on Tuesday, June 27th 1pm at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest with Rev Kristie Webb Finley as the officiant. Reception to follow immediately after the service in the Great Room at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest church 700 N Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL.
Place of interment is Memorial Garden, First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.
Reuland and Turbough Funeral Home (RTfunerals.com) in Lake Forest is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to PADS (padslakecounty.org/donate/), that helps the homeless in Lake County. Archie was a former board member for this charitable organization.
Archibald Eaton Fletcher, Jr known as “Archie” by family and friends, died on Wednesday, June 22, 2023 right after getting his hair cut in Lake Bluff. He was 90 years old at the time of his death, caused by congestive heart failure.
He was a long-time resident of Lake Bluff for six decades and served on the Park Board for a number of years.Born in Dayton, Ohio during the depths of the depression in October 1932, Archie was the son of Archie E. Fletcher, Senior and Zora Isabel Fletcher. Later in his childhood he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his father was an executive for Standard Oil.
He went to The Taft School, a college–preparatory boarding school in Watertown, CT, followed by college at Case (Western Reserve) in Cleveland and graduated in 1954. He was an active member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, for which he stayed connected with the rest of his life serving a regional Province President. While he was going to college, he met Dorothy Jean Heidloff, a nursing student. They got married in November 1953 and were married for 55 years until “Dottie” died in June 2008.
They had three children together, David (Casey Ann Coon and the late Wanda Ellithorpe-Fletcher), Sally, and Thomas Eaton (Cindy Fletcher).
As a man of action, he sought new love and was blessed to meet Kathleen Margaret Moeller (Kathy) in September 2008. They fell in love with their common love of travel and movies. On September 12, 2009 they got married at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.
Besides being survived by three of his own children, Archie is survived by four grandchildren (Janine, Jeffrey, Abigail, and Austin) and seven great grandchildren (Forrest, Hendrix, Finley, Lincoln, Falon, Malcolm, and Farrah). He is survived by Kathy’s daughter Trisha and her three children, as well as three great-grandchildren.
After finishing school in Cleveland and working for several area business, Archie relocated to Peoria, Illinois where he worked at Westinghouse lighting division. While in Peoria, he was the President of the local Peoria Golfer’s Association and lit the first “night golf course” in downstate Illinois.
In late 1966, Archie moved his family to Glen Ellyn, a Chicago western suburb (“because it was in the middle of some great golf courses” he revealed a couple of months ago.) Together with his son David, he started the Glenbard West hockey club in 1972, where coached for several years.
In 1987, after designing the lighting studio for a new and upcoming talent in Chicago, named Oprah Winfrey, Archie and his youngest son Tom started Fletcher Chicago, a fledging new venture to service the emerging television and movie industry. In 1991, Archie and Tom proposed placing a robotic camera that was installed under the scoreboard at the old Chicago Stadium for the NBA Finals.
Soon Archie’s daughter Sally would join the team and under Archie’s leadership, the team at Fletcher Sports began to innovative multiple camera shots that would revolutionize sports broadcasting worldwide. Fletcher Chicago would eventually own every NHL goal camera in North America. The team at Fletcher would go on to win several national Emmys and open offices in London prior to the 2012 Olympics. In, 2018, Archie sold Fletcher, now owned by NEP. He finally retired at 83 years old.
Fletcher Chicago also served the growing motion picture industry in Illinois. Archie helped create the Illinois Production Alliance to lobby for tax incentives to bring the Hollywood industry to the state. Archie help led the cinema camera rental team into the digital age of filmmaking.
He spent the rest of his life serving as the Chief Financial Officer for his son David’s medical practice in Champaign and serving as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest. He was a leader in the men’s prayer group Men of Corinth and often led bible studies, where biblical passage quizzes were beloved.
He was a passionate Chicago Black Hawks fan and season ticket holder, as well as Chicago White Sox fan and season ticket holder. He proudly boasted he was at Mark Buhrle’s perfect game in 2009.
In his last few years, he was blessed that his daughter Sally, son Thomas, and granddaughter Janine and her family all moved to Lake Forest to be close to him. For him having all of his family surrounding him was the legacy he valued the most.