Ronald H. Fultz Sr. played basketball on the same old Haddington Playground courts in West Philadelphia on which the late NBA basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain played as a teen.

Chamberlain, a friend of Mr. Fultz’s older brother, used to call Ronald Fultz “Little Fultz,” said a family member.

One day, when Mr. Fultz was 18 and playing basketball with friends, he noticed a teenage girl walking by.

The girl, Joyce Copes, about 16, stared back at Mr. Fultz so intensely, wondering who the handsome young man was, that she walked into a pole.

About two years later, Mr. Fultz, then 20, and 18-year-old Joyce were married, on Aug. 5, 1961.

Mr. Fultz and wife Joyce on their wedding day, Aug. 5, 1961.
Courtesy the Fultz Family
Mr. Fultz and wife Joyce on their wedding day, Aug. 5, 1961.

That same year, Mr. Fultz joined the Marine Corps. He served within the United States and received an honorable discharge.

A retired inventory management specialist for the U.S. Department of Defense, Mr. Fultz, who lived in Philadelphia, died at home of cancer on June 27, surrounded by his wife and children. He was 79.

During his years with the department, Mr. Fultz also served as vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 62.

For a time, Mr. Fultz was a teacher for emotionally disturbed children at a state-run school.
Courtesy the Fultz Family
For a time, Mr. Fultz was a teacher for emotionally disturbed children at a state-run school.

Mr. Fultz was born in Philadelphia to Matthew and Anita Wright Fultz. He was the second of three children in the family.

Although he dropped out of West Philadelphia High School, Mr. Fultz earned his GED while serving in the Marines. After the service, he graduated from Community College of Philadelphia and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Temple University. He also pursued a master’s in education.

For a time, Mr. Fultz was a teacher for emotionally disturbed children at a state-run school. But he left the school and began working as a claims adjuster for the Social Security Administration. He later started his job as a procurement officer for the Philadelphia-based Defense Supply Command.

Mr. Fultz and his wife had three children and reared their family first in Southwest Philadelphia and later in Wynnefield.

After their children were grown, the couple retired to an apartment in the Overbrook neighborhood in West Philadelphia. They would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary next month.

“He loved his work. He loved helping people,” his son Rodney said. “He enjoyed being in public service.”

When he retired, Cmdr. Gary Border presented Mr. Fultz with a citation of loyal service for more than 27 years.

Mr. Fultz believed in children having chores and rules.

“We were raised with manners and being polite and hardworking,” Rodney Fultz said.

Mr. Fultz loved to read and watch military and history documentaries on TV. He especially loved anything about the Marine Corps. He always celebrated Nov. 10, the day the Corps was established in 1775 in addition to the traditional Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday.

He enjoyed watching basketball and boxing on TV, and he was expert at pinochle.

“He loved to play pinochle,” Rodney said. “He taught me to play when I was 7 or 8. He taught both my brother and me to play in tournaments. I was so young, the adults didn’t think I knew how to play.”

In addition to his wife and son Rodney, Mr. Fultz is survived by son Ronald Jr., daughter Renae, grandson Khalif, a sister, and many other relatives and friends.

There will be a public viewing from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 9, at Wood Funeral Home, 5537 W. Girard Ave.

A private funeral will follow at the funeral home at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown.