Tuesday, July 12, 2016

John Clarence Fretz 1925 - 2009

John (Jack, as he was known by most people), and Gloria Fretz moved to Glendale in January of 1952 after he received an honorable discharge from the Navy. At the time they moved to California, they were not members of the Church. They were contacted by the missionaries after moving to Glendale in August of 1953. Gloria was baptized 6 weeks later in September 1953. John was later baptized in July 1954. (He was a little tougher as an investigator.) Since their baptism, they have and have always had a love for their Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ and a strong and abiding testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
They came into the Glendale West ward when Reed Callister was the bishop; a time when Apostle LeGrand Richards often came to the ward to visit his daughter Norine, wife of bishop Callister.
John and Gloria are parents to 4 children:
·       Marcia, mother to 5 children (three boys and two girls). Her youngest was 5 years old when she succumbed to a brain tumor and cancer on July 31, 1996 at the age of 49.
·       David, father of 4 children (one boy and three girls), passed away on January 28, 1999 at the age of 50 from melanoma and lymphatic cancer.
·       Claudia, mother to 2 adopted boys, passed away on June 21, 1998 at the age of 42 due to organ failure after the successful transplant of a heart and both lungs just a couple of years earlier. (She was born with a heart defect and had a heart operation at the age of 5 to surgically close a hole in the wall of her heart.)
·       Albert, father of 6 children (two boys and 4 girls) is married and lives in Riverton, UT and works in SLC for Silicon Valley Bank.
Gloria’s Callings and Service in the Glendale West Ward:
  • She was a primary teacher to many young kids that grew up on Glendale.
  • She taught Guide patrol (including Tad Callister and Lance Wickman among many others)
  • She was the Den Mother when the Church and the ward first started cub scouts.
  • She helped with writing music and working on stake and ward “roadshow” plays for many years with the Hales and the Dietleins.
  • During one year’s Penny Parade contest to raise money for Primary Children’s Hospital, Gloria told her Guide Patrol boys that she would make fudge for them that they could sell for a dollar a pound to raise money for the Penny Parade contest. She anticipated that they would each probably sell about a pound of fudge. They took orders and sold it as she made it. They ended up selling 100 pounds of her famous fudge.
John’s Callings and Service in the Glendale West Ward:
  • First Cub Master in the ward when the Church adopted the cub scouting program
  • Many Elders quorum and High Priest callings
  • Member of the famous Glendale West Ward choir under the direction of Wendell Noble and later, Cliff Barnes.
Some of their favorite and most treasured experiences in the Glendale West ward were plays under the direction of Gordon Jump in the productions of The Music Man and Bye Bye Birdie, as well as in the Glendale Stake production of Oklahoma!
John and Gloria left Glendale and moved to Grants Pass, Oregon in 1979, joining the Dastrups and the Hamricks where Gloria, at the age of 91, still resides with her Great Dane and a cat. John passed away on January 1, 2009 at the age of 83.

 Gloria is on the fourth row back, left with a child in her arms.

[This was the eulogy spoken at his funeral in Grants Pass, OR. He died January 1, 2009.]
John Clarence Fretz was born on Sunday April 26, 1925 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When his father and sister had returned from an automobile ride they had gone on, they were surprised to find he had been born. The doctor and nurse had delivered a bright red-haired, eight pound boy.
At about six years of age, the family moved to Abington, PA, about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia in what would today be called “out in the country”.
John’s father was a very successful piano and organ salesman and was musically talented as well.
John (or Jack as he is most often known) attended high school in Abington, PA and was called to war two months before he finished graduating from high school. He later finished his schooling after returning from his Naval service during World War II. He graduated from the Naval Training Station in Sampson, NY in June of 1943, serving from then until 1946.
John married Gloria Blakey (my mother) on March 5, 1945. In 1950 he was recalled to the Korean War for about 18 months.
Most of his World War II Navy service was as a quartermaster on the USS Cowie, performing convoy duty, making some 14 trips across the Atlantic Ocean. He also served in the Pacific on the USS Juneau, a ship converted for minesweeping in the China Sea.
In 1951, John and Gloria and their two children, Marcia and David, moved to San Pedro, California into Naval housing.
He was honorably released from Naval service in 1952, after which they moved to Glendale, California where two more children, Albert and Claudia, were eventually born and raised. After leaving the Navy, he worked in Research and Development for several years for a number of companies. At one company he helped design and develop the contoured dental chair, a radical new design for its day. At another company, he helped develop the Playtex nursing baby bottle. And at another company he worked on manned space rocket design.
Jack and Gloria raised their four children mainly in La Crescenta and Glendale, California where they were members of the Glendale West Ward for over three decades.
In 1961 he was persuaded to work for the Prudential Insurance Company, at which he worked until he retired in about 1989, a total of nearly 30 years in the insurance business.
As a result of his success in the insurance field, he qualified for and was able to attend out-of-town conferences and conventions each year. Because of his devotion to his family, rather than going alone, we got to go along with him each time. Although the convention portion of the trip would only last a few days, he would extend the time into a family vacation, usually a couple of weeks. The natural result of these business trips/vacations was that we got to see the greater portion of the United States and Canada: some 35 of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and at least five provinces of Canada. We traveled in what my mom termed our BMW (Big Mormon Wagon) at a time when station wagons were to then what SUVs are to our day, the preferred method of travel on road trips.
After retiring from Prudential, the “ham” came out in John Fretz here in Grants Pass. His first stage production was The Music Man, and then came My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Noel Coward’s “Cowardy Custard”, and finally Oklahoma. He also belonged to the Opera Guild, performing in the Merry Widow.
After his show business career, he turned to gardening, producing, what he called, the world’s finest cantelopes and tomatoes.
During these times he also loved to work on his family genealogy. He never had what you’d call hobbies, just a lot of things he liked to do. You might say his family, and people in general, were his hobbies.
He had a strong and abiding love of his Father in heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ, of which he often spoke, and never hesitated to share and speak kindly of, often with tears of deep emotion.
He loved people and he loved his cats. And they all loved him; at least all the cats anyway. He was known to write a sarcastic or scathing letter to the editor a time or two and often received scathing letters in return from some who didn’t appreciate his brand of conservative opinion. One such person wrote an 8-page letter condemning him to Hades when he dies. (I can assure you he isn’t there.)
At one point he had a disagreement with the editor and canceled his newspaper subscription. After a while, someone at the paper must have missed his letters because he was offered three months free subscription if he would start subscribing to the newspaper again. Numerous people would sometime stop him on the street to ask him when he was going to write another letter to the editor.
Dad always added spice to life. Sometimes he was like a bull in a china ship but it never bothered him and most people didn’t seem to mind either.
Jack was always ready with a funny joke or political story or email, unafraid to share his political leanings.
He was never one to sit still either. Even in his last days he didn’t want to lie still.
One more of “The Greatest Generation” and World War II veterans has stepped through this mortal veil to the other side. For one reason or another, for those who knew him, life in Grants Pass won’t be the same without Jack Fretz.

Eagle Point National Cemetery
Eagle Point
Jackson County
Oregon, USA
Plot: Section 28, site 161