Born in Massachusetts, he came to San Diego at age 16 to make his fortune. He started out working for a produce company, reaching his customers by train, horse-drawn wagon and even bicycle. His travels allowed him to see the far flung county and he quickly realized its potential for greatness.
Soon the ambitious Fletcher launched his own company. He knew that in the desert climate of San Diego, lack of water was holding back the city’s growthl. He moved into the water business, and with water-delivery systems in place he built land developments that included Grossmont, Mt. Helix, Del Mar, downtown San Diego, and the Julian area.
He was a big booster of road building and highways that connected San Diego to points east. To gather publicity for his road-building efforts, he undertook an automobile trip to Washington, D.C., in 1915. It took him 26 days. The effort was so enormous and risky in those days, no less than President Warren G. Harding gave him a monument for his exploit.
One of the biggest events that put San Diego on the map was the 1915 Pan American Exposition, which was like a World’s Fair where the greatest achievements man had to offer were on display. The event brought such important figures as inventor Thomas Edison. Balboa Park was built to house the exposition. As one of the city’s biggest movers and shakers, Fletcher served as a director for the 1915-16 exposition. And he led the effort to save the graceful architecture from being demolished in 1917. He served again as a director for the 1935-36 Exposition.
In 1934 Colonel Fletcher was elected to the state Senate, where he served for 12 years. He spearheaded the effort to create the San Diego County Water Authority, overlooking water supply for the entire region. He was a leader in the effort that transferred Mission Bay from the state to city hands.
Along the way to building San Diego, Fletcher married and had ten children. He never really was a colonel. His title is honorary, awarded to him by the governor for serving in the California National Guard. "The title stuck,” a newspaper would later say of him. “It fitted his vigorous, dramatic kind of leadership.”