Farewell to A Wonderful Man
I wanted to say something about Fred here because he was a remarkable man, and I am going to miss him terribly.
Of course the family has been amazing. And the outpouring of support from everybody who knew and loved Fred has been wonderful. It doesn’t make it any less sad, but it’s comforting to the family to know how many people cared about him. And the fact is that he was healthy and vital until suddenly he wasn’t (he had a heart attack in his home). Many people at the two-day wake remarked that he was “88 going on 60.” As for me, I just loved him and thought he was a great father and a wonderful person. Generous, gracious, hilarious, musical, athletic and a real gentleman. He was ALWAYS there when you needed him. Unconditionally.
Fred’s is a true American story from the Greatest Generation. He was a child through the Great Depression and served as a military policeman in India during WWII. He participated in Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and later studied cosmetology under the GI Bill. He owned Fred’s Beauty Salon in Buffalo’s East Side in the 1950’s and 60’s and was a master of the “shimmering updo.” He gave me a beehive hairdo once at Christmas, using bobby pins from the old salon. It looked awesome and 60’s-licious, but it felt like a Home Lobotomy Kit. Fred also made the perfect Manhattan and had a gorgeous baritone voice.
Fred later sold the salon and became a roofer and a Union leader at the Roofers Local 74. He went skiing until he was 80 or so, and then he walked 2 miles a day and bowled in several leagues until he died. We called Mary at the bowling alley about his death immediately because the league was his family too, and we didn’t want them to find out about it in the paper. In fact, the entire daytime staff at the Thruway Lanes showed up at the wake in their bowing jackets. And they sent the largest, most beautiful wreath of all.
He was a strapping fellow too. One Christmas I went with him to the local bakery to pick up fresh dinner rolls, and I had to body block for him to fend off the little old ladies in the bakery who were fawning over him as we waited for the warm bread. They could not resist his smile, his charisma or his full head of hair (or his leather jacket). He loved it, and I couldn’t blame the ladies. I felt like Justin Bieber’s body guard in a sea of crazed, grey haired tweeners.
When his wife Dee became unwell two years ago, Fred stepped up to the plate. He learned to cook at age 86. He managed the complex medical bills and medications and advocated for Dee when doctors just wanted to prescribe more drugs. He adored his wonderful kids and grandkids, and they adored him right back.
Fred and I had the same sense of humor. When either of us heard a good joke, we’d call and have a huge laugh together. Luckily, I had called him early last week with a doozy. He laughed so hard. And that’s how I’ll always remember him.
Thank you for reading about this remarkable, wonderful man. The obituary James wrote appeared in the Buffalo News.
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