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II Timothy 4:7


John Arnold Fryberger 
FCM 3/c, USNR
September, 1901 - July, 1985


    John Arnold Fryberger was born September 3rd, 1901 in Canton, Ohio, the eldest son of John and Mary (Arnold) Fryberger. He lived his life with the understanding that moral values and hard work were what truly made a man. Morals, hard work, and of course, duty.

    Too young to serve during the first World War, he played football at Hartville High School and learned how to run the family farm in his early years. Understanding that farming was not what he wanted to do his entire life, he attended electrical trade school in the late teens and became an electrician. Radio was in its infancy in those days and one of his many fascinations. Using his knowledge of electricity, he designed and built one of the first two way radio sets in Lake county, Ohio in the early '20s. (My family still owns this wonderful specimen of early electronics engineering.)

    Another fascination of his during the early part of the century was the automobile and the internal combustion engine, interests that would lead him to build his own roadster and drive across the country with his brother and cousin in a Ford Model T during a time when what we now call roads were nothing more than dusty old horse and wagon trails, if there were even those in many places. On the day his two sons left on their adventure, John Fryberger, Sr. felt certain that he would never see his boys and his nephew alive again.

    Carpentry and woodworking were also among his many skills, to the level of being referred to by many as a "master carpenter". 

    During the Great Depression years, as the story goes, when he was applying for a job at Republic Steel (now LTV Steel) in Canton, Ohio, the gentleman taking his application informed him that there were no jobs to be had. These were tough times. Then he noticed that my father had a background as an electrician. One of Republic's large electric arc furnaces was acting up and he told my father that if he could fix the balky furnace, he could have a job. Over thirty years later, in 1966, my father retired from Republic Steel.

    Hard work. That made him strong mentally, and heavily muscled and lean physically.

    As the world engaged in another armed conflict, most men my fathers age who were not military men by career were too old to serve. As of yet unmarried, he honorably answered the call of duty to defend his country and enlisted in the Naval Reserves in 1942 at the age of 41.

    Why the Navy? His reasoning was sound. If he was going to war, he wasn't going to walk... he was going to ride.

    A fire controlman aboard the USS Rich, he was more than twice the age of many of his shipmates, prompting many of them to call him "Pop". He often said that he bunked near one of the radiomen who taught him to love classical music because of his own fondness for it. 

    He was one of the lucky ones that morning of June 8th, 1944 escaping with a concussion and a slew of broken ribs. He was discharged from the US Naval Reserves on January 5th, 1945. I know little else of his war experiences.

    After peace resumed, my father settled back into everyday American life. In 1952, an event occurred that completely changed his life. He would always feel that that was the year he actually began to live. He met a lady named Eileen Yehnert. Twenty-one years his junior, he asked her to marry him a scant two weeks after they were introduced.

    They purchased forty acres of land in Carroll County, Ohio and he built his bride a beautiful house with his own two hands. The good Lord gave them two children, a daughter Paula in 1956, and a son George in 1959, although I'm sure as we were growing up they often felt it was the devil's doing and not God's.

    He never spoke much about the war to his family. I know that his experiences affected him deeply and that he felt an intense pride for having served his country. I remember him snapping to attention, his eyes filling with tears whenever our national anthem was played. The playing of "Taps" would cause him to literally weep. I'm sure that during those times, his thoughts were of his comrades who had fought beside him and made the ultimate sacrifice.

    In November of 1984, a sudden and massive stroke took the life of the only woman he ever truly loved. From that moment, he felt that there was nothing left for him to live for. Within days of her death, he simply lapsed into a coma from which he would never awaken.

    John Arnold Fryberger passed away in July of 1985. With a military honor guard of veterans presenting the colors and a twenty one gun salute, he was laid to rest beside the woman he so adored. As his casket was lowered into the ground, a lone trumpet could be heard playing "Taps" in the distance.

Should I be judged half the man he was, my life will have been worth living.

          

Click here to see a small J. A. Fryberger photo gallery.
 

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