Honorable veteran, scholarly professional, committed husband, and family man are all phrases that could all be used to describe 87 year-old James or “Fred.”
Fred enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 and served active duty during WWII from 1944-1946. He was assigned to be on a gun team on a Merchant Marine ship. Because Merchant Marines were civilians, the Navy crews had to operate the guns on their ships. In 1950, while he was finishing up summer school, he was summoned by the Navy and told he had to go to Japan right in the outbreak of the Korean War. When he was discharged, his rank was Boatswain Mate 1st Class.
After Fred finished up his time in the service, he attended the University of Arkansas where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology and his Master’s Degree in Natural Science. While in his Master’s program, he was tasked with trying to balance classes and babysitting his 3 children while his wife worked at the on-campus student infirmary. As a result of his wife working during the day and Fred going to class at the same time, Fred had to bring his 3 children to class each day and sit them outside until class was finished. The children sat outdoors so Fred could keep one eye on them, and one on his schoolwork. Fred eventually went on to work 41 years in x-ray technology. Fred made sure that both he and his family volunteered and were active in the community. For many years, Fred volunteered by teaching first aid. Due to Fred’s dedication to his family, he volunteered his children to serve as the dummies during the demonstrations!
Fred’s family has always meant the world to him. He has not been able to see his last surviving sibling, Betty, in several years. Much like her brother Fred, Betty’s life was also shaped by education. Betty attended nursing school after high school, but shortly after had her first of three children and stayed home with them until 1969. After her children were grown, she served as an emergency room nurse and then as a scrub tech. She eventually found herself staying with her brother Fred and his family in Fort Smith, AR when she was going to school to become an RN. At the age of 47, Betty decided she wanted to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She actually went to the same university as her daughter Julia, and even shared some of the same classes with her.
Wish of a Lifetime was honored to fly Fred and his daughter Debbie from his home in Midwest City, OK to see his sister Betty and his niece Julia one last time in Sacramento, CA on November 21st.