Fry’s flag flies high

The Fort Scott Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution honored Ron Fry for his efforts to install and fly a huge American flag on the east side of Iola. The flag was installed a few years ago in honor of his brother.


Local News

June 13, 2024 - 1:59 PM

Members of the Fort Scott Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution honored Ron Fry of Iola with an award for his efforts to correctly honor and fly the U.S. flag. Fry installed the huge flag near Pete’s on U.S. 54 on the east edge of Iola. Front from left, Paul Ross, Fry, Jim Gilpin; back row, Merrill Hodgden, Gary McIntosh, David Sager and Ken Shetlar. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Visitors who come to Iola from the east can’t help but notice the giant flag near Pete’s convenience store on U.S. 54. Few know the flag’s backstory. 

Iolan Ron Fry installed the 80-foot tall pole and 20-foot by 30-foot flag in 2020 in honor of his brother, Richard D. Fry, an attorney who died in February 2017.

The Fort Scott Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution honored Ron Fry’s efforts with the SAR Flag Certificate Award earlier this week. The award recognizes those who fly the U.S. flag daily and correctly.

The award is particularly timely, as today is Flag Day. On June 14, 1885, a schoolteacher in Wisconsin asked students to write essays about the flag’s creation to celebrate its 108th anniversary. It was the first observation of Flag Day, which would be recognized by a proclamation signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. President Harry Truman signed a bill into law making Flag Day an official annual national observation in 1949. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law establishing offiical guidelines as part of a Flag Code in 1942. Those rules describe how to correctly handle, display and regard the U.S. flag.

It’s a responsibility Fry takes seriously.

He led efforts to install flags in multiple places around Iola. He replaced a flag at Highland Cemetery and one at the senior citizens center. He wants to install a 13-star flag at the original Iola Cemetery. His goal is to install another huge flag near the courthouse at some point, but no action has been taken.

Fry said there’s a simple reason behind his inspiration to fly the flag in as many locations as possible: “I like America.” 

Fry learned of a desire in the community to install a large flag on the east side of town and asked property owner Larry Macha for permission. Ron Boring provided a crane to set the pole. 

A plaque at the base of the flag near Pete’s honors Richard D. Fry.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Around the same time plans were taking shape, Fry’s brother died. Richard Fry started his career as an accountant before returning to college to become a lawyer and worked as a civil litigation attorney for more than 20 years. He served as a legislative intern to Bob Talkington. He consulted and advised members of Congress and testified before multiple state legislative committees.  

Ron Fry dedicated the flag in his brother’s honor, installing a plaque at the base that reads: 

“‘Mr. Chairman’ dedicated years of his life to educating people about the U.S. Constitution and how those laws impacted their lives and our future. Because of his forthright manner and determined commitment to America’s freedom, he was ‘feared and revered’ in patriotic circles. When asked what he thought his most important role was in life, he would tell you, it was just being Dean’s dad, everything else was just trivial! ‘When an honest man finds he is wrong, he either stops being wrong or stops being honest.’”

Most people who drive past the flag near Pete’s assume it’s owned by the business, Iolan Gary McIntosh said. When members of the Fort Scott SAR learned it was actually the work of a citizen, they took steps to recognize his efforts.

The Fort Scott SAR meets the second Saturday of each month in Fort Scott.