It’s been more than 12 years since he died, but the legacy of lives on through the foundation that bears his name.
Even though the Rev. Edwin Frederick is gone, his vision and compassion continue to serve the community. Anyone whose life crossed paths with him cannot forget him. But there are many who may know little about the man whose foundation has aided thousands in the region.
Father Fred was born and raised in Grand Rapids. As a young Catholic priest, he was assigned to serve as a chaplain for the Traverse City State hospital in 1959. He served staff and patients there for 30 years until the aging facility was finally shut down in 1989.
The closing of the state hospital left many of its residents out on their own for the first time in their lives. Many had no family, no support system, no resources to begin a life of independent living. Father Fred recognized the need and began helping people who were falling through the cracks of society.
In 1990, a group of concerned citizens incorporated the Father Fred Foundation. Thanks to the support of a generous community, a dedicated staff and devoted volunteers, the foundation has steadily grown to where it is today. It has helped countless people over the past 22 years.
Even though he served as the Catholic chaplain at the hospital, Father Fred wasn’t a stickler about religion or social status when it came to lending a helping hand. He treated all with dignity and his example lives on through the volunteers and staff of the Father Fred Foundation today.
Father Fred was not above climbing on the back of a motorcycle in the annual Harley Davidson Owners Group fundraiser. And he didn’t shrink from sharing a beer or cigar with the Ancient Order of Hibernians at their annual cigar dinner. He knew these public events helped raise much-needed funding for folks facing desperate situations.
Northern Michigan is richer for having Father Fred as an example and inspiration. Anyone who knew him and remember him can attest that he served his community without preaching, without judgment and with dignity for all.