Frank Dittrich, a major player in the hospitality and tourism industry in Lake George, unexpectedly passed away at his Lake George home this past Monday, December 12. Many industry leaders in the area spoke up to pay tribute to his significant contributions to our local region ahead of calling hours, which will take place December 16.
A True Lake George Champion & Treasure to the Community
“He was a tireless advocate for the overall hospitality industry,” Gina Mintzer of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB said in a statement.
“We’ve lost a man who cared deeply not just for his own family’s business, but about all of the hospitality businesses in Warren County, large and small,” Mark Behan of Behan Communications agreed.
Originally coming from a finance background, Dittrich embraced the hospitality industry with his marriage to Kathleen (Kenny) Dittrich. Dittrich, Kathleen, and his brother-in-law Dave Kenny, along with other members of the family, have over the years owned multiple hospitality businesses in the area, including Marine Village Resort, Sun Castle Resort, and Tea Island Resort. Dittrich also served as General Manager of the Inn at Erlowest.
Additionally, Dittrich was a member of the Board of Directors of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB among other boards, and he was one of the local business leaders who founded the Warren County Lodging Association.
Dittrich’s legacy stretches far beyond owning local businesses and serving on boards, though. We chatted with several members of the Lake George hospitality community, all of whom had only the most favorable comments about Dittrich. Several emphasized how key he was to keeping the region afloat throughout the pandemic.
“During COVID, he designed a systemic cleaning and sanitization protocol to help local restaurants and businesses keep their employees and guests safe,” Behan said. “Frank’s system kept many businesses open and staffed, and helped them survive the pandemic.”
“When we went into pandemic lockdown, he immediately went into high gear to help lead a team of public and private entities to ensure the summer season of tourism was not a bust,” Mintzer said. “He personally wrote the handbook of best practices based on NYS and CDC guidelines for the hotels/motels to ensure our locally owned smaller properties could operate safely and responsibility.”
Dittrich didn’t just step up to the plate during the pandemic, but genuinely cared about the entire region as a whole during his many years living in the area.
“He reached out often to new owners to welcome them to the community and offer his experience and expertise to ensure their success, which came as a surprise to many,” said Minzter. “His moral compass operated in such a way that every business was more of a comrade versus a competitor.”
“I’ve known him for many years and I had a great relationship with him, being respectful of each other even if we disagreed,” Gene Merlino, co-owner of the Lamplight Inn and Lake Luzerne Town Supervisor, told us. “He wound up to be a good friend and a good colleague in tourism. He’s going to be missed. . .I really feel for his family. We lost a good man.”
“Frank was one of the most brilliant men I have ever met,” said Fort William Henry President Sam Luciano. “His hospitality was second to none. . .he was very involved in the community. He served on many boards, attended most tourism related meetings, and contributed on every level. He will be sorely missed.”
“Frank’s contributions to the community throughout his career are undeniable,” said Sara Mannix of Mannix Marketing. “However, he was more than that to all of us in tourism. His passion motivated us all to build a better community for the future. He was a mentor, and an ardent supporter, generously giving his time. Frank made everyone around him feel like they were the most important person in the room.”
“He was brilliant, funny, dogged, hilariously candid, and completely allergic to baloney,” Behan told us. “A delightful person who, even in retirement from his position as a senior corporate finance executive, often came to hospitality conference calls a few minutes late, with apologies, because he had been cleaning guest toilets or doing laundry. We will miss him so much.”
Calling Hours Are Friday, December 16
Calling hours will be from 3pm to 6pm on December 16 at Singleton Sullivan Potter Funeral Home in Queensbury. A reception will be held immediately after at the Inn at Erlowest.
Frank Dittrich is survived by his wife of 40 years, Kathleen, along with his children Thomas, Paul, and Caitlin, and two grandchildren Briella and Connor. He is also survived by his mother Carol, and sisters Lisa and Linda.