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Frederick Thomas Smith, 98, of Longville, Minnesota passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, September 9 while he was surrounded by his family.
Frederick Thomas Smith was born in Flemington, New Jersey on December 18, 1919. Fred was the second son and the third of three children born to DeWitt and Edith (Curtis) Smith. He grew up in Flemington, Hunterdon County and Titusville, Mercer County, NJ.
Upon graduation from high school he attended the New Jersey School of the Arts where he learned wood working and metal working. In April of 1939, Fred started his twenty-two year career in the United States Navy.
On November 12, 1942, while acting as lead escort in TAG 20 the USS Erie PG-50 was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The Erie manage to run aground in Willemstad Harbor Curacao, Dutch West Indies. Fred was selected to remain behind, as part of a salvage crew, to prepare the Erie for towing back to the United States for repairs. The damage to the Erie was more extensive than realized and while attempting to dewater and de-fuel the ship, she started to take on seawater and capsized quickly. Fred returned to New Jersey in December 1942 on “survivors” leave.
When he was on leave he met Idelle Fletcher of Remer, Minnesota, at the family home of his brother-in-law, where Idelle was employed. They fell in love.
On June 30, 1943, six months after they met, Fred and Idelle were married at the Navy Family Chapel in Long Beach, California and they began their 70 years of marriage. Their marriage produced three children, four grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.
In addition to serving on the USS Erie, Fred served on a wide variety of navy ships and stations in his twenty-two years of active duty. They included a battleship, a pilot rescue “crash” boat, a seagoing tug, a yard tug, an attack cargo ship, a replenishment oiler, an aircraft carrier, Naval Air Station Barbers Point Hawaii, Naval Activity Argentia Newfoundland, and recruiting.
Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1961 Fred, Idelle and family moved to St Cloud, and later to Little Falls, Minnesota where Fred was employed as a Debit Agent and Registered Representative for Prudential Life Insurance.
In 1976 at the age of 56, Fred retired from the working world to move to their home on Broadwater Bay of Woman Lake, near Longville, Minnesota. He and Idelle were very active in their community and Longville Community Church. He helped form the Woman Lake Association where he and Idelle spent many hours taking water samples that tested for water clarity. He also served on the Sheriff’s Water Safety Patrol.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, sister Julia and brother A. Milton, all of his brothers and sister-in-laws and great-grandson Zachariah Smith. Fred also lost “his Bride” of 70 years, Idelle, in 2013.
He is survived by his children; Judy K. Phillips of Michigan City, Indiana, Robert A. Smith of British Columbia and Frederick T. Smith II (Cris) of Longville, Minnesota. Fred has four grandchildren; Ryan (Loretta) Phillips, Danielle Phillips, Nichole Cambell, and Wayne (Jennifer) Smith, fourteen great grandchildren, very special neighbors and adopted kids Patty Miller, Rosanne and Dale Gregory, Karla and Keven Tschida, adopted grandkids Kendell (Alissa), Kyle (Flora) and Katelyn Tschida, many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be at 11:00 on Monday, September 17 at Salem Lutheran Church in Longville officiated by Pastor Trisha Jorgenson. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.
The family suggests memorials to Salvation Army, your local hospice organization or charity of your choice.