Fredi Van Pelt
Fredi Van Pelt

Fredi Van Pelt

By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Fredi Van Pelt was born on July 2, 1923 on the island of Alameda, CA. She was the youngest of three sisters. Her father, a painting contractor, was born in Amsterdam and migrated over with his family through Boston, MA. Her stay-at-home mother was the daughter of a shipbuilder originally from Nottingham. Fredi would ride every morning with her mother to drop off her grandfather at the shipyard where other members of her extended family worked. During the summer she would have loads of fun swimming in the bay situated across from San Francisco. They would also enjoy boat rides in the area’s estuary.

After graduating high school, she and one of her sisters began talking about joining the military. In 1944 she decided to join the Marine Corps. Her mother was so upset about her decision that she did not ride with Fredi to the airport for her flight to boot camp. She went through boot camp training at Camp Lejeune, NC. She remained there to attend quartermaster school. Upon completion she continued her stay at the camp to begin her job as a freight checker. She recalls there being a bakery across from where she worked. The bakery would give her fresh bread. She enjoyed her time on the beautiful camp by attending movies on-site and by taking the summer bus to the beach. In May of 1946, she was discharged once she earned her way to corporal. On her way back home, she was ordered to stay in New Orleans overnight with a few other female Marines because she would have had to ride the train back in a cattle car full of men. She remembers that as an enjoyable night she had with her friends. She finally made it to Camp Pendleton, CA for her discharge.

Fredi went back home to Alameda and began a job doing office work. Eventually she became a field office manager for a heavy industrial piping company. During her time at the company, she was sent to Cape Canaveral, FL where they worked on the sound suppression water system, which was essential for the flight to the moon. As a civilian, she also worked as a district sales manager for Avon covering four counties. She drove about 4,000 miles each month to appoint and train new representatives. She decided to retire from full time work and moved to Sun City, AZ where she worked part time. Full retirement did not come until she was in her seventies.

Even though she pursued a busy career, nothing held Fredi back from getting married and raising a family. She and her husband had three children, two sons and one daughter, and raised them in California. She is now the grandmother of three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

She found out about AFRH-G when one of her pinochle club members brought in pictures of the home. She and two of her children came to check out the home because her daughter was getting worried about her living alone. Upon seeing AFRH, she decided this was the best place for her. Her only regret was having to leave her dog, Tobi. Her neighbor graciously took him and regularly keeps in touch with her.

Fredi keeps active by enjoying pinochle and competing in the various tournaments offered. She also volunteers her time by working for the Art Specialist by performing administrative duties and working the Library’s circulation desk. She also works hard to feel good and stay fit by exercising in the gym each day. Those that know her would confirm her savvy fashion sense. She’s always dressed to a “T” right down to her matching shoes. Along with her fashionable clothing, she’s always wearing a stunning smile. AFRH-G is very glad to welcome her here to enjoy her retirement.