Fred was born in Seattle, Washington. He grew up as an only child in Berkeley with his father Fred Sr., and his mother Mercedes, née Buchanan. He died in his parked car at Tracy City Library, a favorite hangout.
I met Fred when I enrolled in Berkeley High School, California, for my senior year in 1952. We shared an interest in modern “West Coast” jazz, and in exploring existential topics, but not with the rigor we later employed. During his high school days and beyond, Fred worked part-time at the Chevron Station at the intersection of Telegraph and Ashby Avenues in Berkeley. This experience began his education in the maintenance and repair of cars, which became one of his passions. After high school he went to U. C. Berkeley—“Cal.” He joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) on campus. He also joined Phi Sigma Kappa, a fraternity, which experience he remembered fondly, often mentioning fraternity brothers. He majored in “American Studies” in the Department of Political Science, and received his Bachelor of Arts. I joined the US Navy after high school, so we weren’t in touch during these and the few following years.
When I left the Navy to study at San Francisco City College, Fred was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, fulfilling his obligation of active duty in the US Army for two years, as a 1st lieutenant. He learned about military tactics, firearms, and military history— interests he retained throughout his life. He returned home to Berkeley as I was also returning, with my wife Patricia, to begin my junior year at Cal. That’s when we met again—1960. He and I and Patricia built a small circle of friends during the next six years, until I graduated with my master’s degree in 1966. Patricia and I began moving around Northern California, following a series of jobs in my career, but Fred and I stayed in touch. He often visited us, wherever we were. My younger sister Diane became part of this group, as well.
After his stint in the army, Fred worked for several years in the data processing department at the Naval Supply Center in Oakland. Finding this unsatisfactory, he enrolled at Laney College in Oakland to learn welding, and subsequently worked for many years in this trade, while living in Oakland, then Hayward. As my jobs took me away from the San Francisco Bay Area—Southern California, Texas, Alaska—we began corresponding. I have at least 300 letters from him, since 1988, which I am intermittently transcribing into digital documents, with an eye toward privately publishing them, interleaved chronologically with my letters to him. Fred’s goal was to retire at age 40 or 45, thence to dedicate himself to the reading of all the books in the local library, in order, via their assigned codes in the Dewey Decimal System; and, to restore old VW Beetles; and, to listen to music. So, after he saved up $100,000, he quit to live in a small trailer in Hayward, then in Tracy. I worked again in the Bay Area, off and on, for around ten years total, wherein Fred and I inevitably took up where we had previously left off. Patricia and I divorced, and I later married Mary. Fred became a regular visitor to our home in Modesto, California and, after Mary’s and my five years away in Alaska, at our home in Oakland, and then in Ojai. He observed with pleasure the growing up of our children, as well as the children Patricia and I had had together and, later, my grandchildren. I took a short-term job in Dallas in 1989-90. When the job was done, we drove together with my things back to Oakland. We took a side trip to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, so he could reminisce and show me his “home” for two years. I took another job in Alaska which lasted three years, during which time Fred and I corresponded frequently and at length. I returned to San Jose, California in 1995 and we resumed our visits with each other, many at the home of my daughter and son-in-law where he became a periodic visitor. He was often part of family and holiday celebrations at my daughter’s home and also at the home of my sister Diane in San Jose.
In 2002, I married Eva in Los Gatos, in which Fred managed the recorded music for us, then I moved to Stockholm. I have since visited San Jose at least once per year, and Fred has been a house guest for several days during these times. Fred and son-in-law Ken became friends. Our correspondence continued. When Diane moved to Paradise, California, Fred and I took trips together to visit her and my mother when I flew in from Stockholm for family visits. After becoming eligible to receive his Federal Social Security payments, Fred realized he wasn’t going to be able to keep up, financially. He hired in at age 68 as a driver for Monument Car Parts in Tracy, where he worked nine years, until October 2014. He was tired, in the extreme. He died three months later. These are the rough outlines of Fred’s life and my times with him. But, who was Frederic Buchanan Pape?
Here is a list of characteristics which Fred evinced, borrowed from his general personality type (ISTP): – A compelling drive to understand the way things work – Employing logical analysis for practical concerns – Fiercely independent, needing to have the space to make his own decisions – Loyal and faithful to his “brothers” – A need and ability to absorb large quantities of facts, and to sort through them when he was alone – A bias that judgments and decisions should be made impartially, based on the facts.
Accurate as far as they go, these descriptors lack attention to Fred’s soul. He loved cats. Before he lived in his 144 square foot trailer, he had cats in his home. He inevitably befriended cats in the homes of other people, as well. Although having decided he wasn’t marriage or father material after an unsatisfactory affair of the heart while attending Cal, he sincerely appreciated the female form. Fred said he liked women a lot, as long as they were no closer to him than his arm’s length. He was punctilious in observing certain proprieties, such as Christmas cards, and proper dress at special occasions such as weddings and holidays. Always, he comported himself as a gentleman. And, he was a gentle man. I don’t remember him ever getting angry and casting aspersions on others, unless they were public figures; and then, mostly with biting wit, irony, or whimsy.
In younger days he enjoyed alcohol, just as I and our circle of friends did. But, after having been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, he quit drinking immediately and completely. As for tobacco, he was frankly and unashamedly addicted. A familiar phrase from him, when visiting someone’s home, was “I’m going outside to burn one.” Fred was careful with his money, except sometimes. He called himself “cheap”, but I saw him as prudent, given his limited assets and income. Exceptions included when, as he continually scoured second hand shops for his clothing and other necessaries, he would come across cameras which were priced too low to ignore. He would sometimes buy several in a day, detailing them to me in his letters. Cars. I think the word ”obsessed” is not too strong in presenting Fred’s interest in cars. His “pinups” were cars—pictures he took with his many cameras, using the cheapest available film and processing of course, at any car show of merit within a radius of 50 miles. He would have duplicates made to share with me, despite my much lesser interest. In conversation and letters he would give the finest details of body and modifications thereof, engine, mechanical parts, and estimated performance based on his own experience and manufacturer’s specifications.
His musical tastes ranged from the Baroque Period (exemplified by J.S. Bach) through the Classical period (exemplified by Haydn and Mozart), skimming lightly over the Romantic period and much of the Modern, to land solidly where American blues and jazz entered the realm. We exchanged many CDs, and our letters were full of enthusiasms and opinions regarding pieces and performances. Fred was apolitical, but cast the occasional jaundiced eye and remark toward current events and politicians. He was merciless with other public figures, mostly in the entertainment realm, whom he would skewer, often with clever neologisms. Fred’s father was, for a number of years, treasurer for St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. Fred attended the church in his youth and retained his regard for the sect’s various forms and traditions. Books. Fred’s ability to consume books was prodigious. And, he rarely forgot a book or author. As time passed he favored reading fiction over non-fiction.
Fred’s last years as a driver for an auto parts supplier in Tracy were good for Fred, in my view. He had something useful to do, which he apparently did well and efficiently, as was his wont (he and I did use such archaic language with each other). He enjoyed the company of other “gear heads” and in teaching younger fellows the ropes in cars and life. — There you have more insight into Frederic (“it ends in ‘c’, not ‘ck’ he would tersely remind people) Buchanan Pape. No one can fully know another person. I feel privileged to have known Fred as well as anyone. I already miss him. Fred will appreciate a suitable ending in Latin: Requiescat in pace. — Fred celebrated Christmas and Easter with his Buchanan relatives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is survived by his first cousin Barbara; his first cousin Duncan’s widow Patricia, and second cousins Mary, Paul ( wife Penni), Catherine (husband Jason) and Margaret (husband George). This is a link to a photo gallery of pictures in Fred’s later years. — Fred’s remains were laid to rest 20 February 2105. He served as a first lieutenant in the US Army, 1960 – 1962, and therefore was eligible to have his remains interred at a national cemetery, which was his wish. I offered a short eulogy, with four of Fred’s cousins attending: Barbara (Sr. Margeurite) Buchanan, Patricia Buchanan, Paul Buchanan, Penni Thorpe. Graveside Eulogy:
Fred was a civilized man. He was an honorable man. He was a curious man who collected information, processed it carefully, used it, and shared it with others, but never officiously. He was a teacher. He observed the proper forms of society without subordinating the self-directed ways which were peculiarly his. He was his own man. He listened to others, and chose to learn from them when he found them interesting. He did not judge others. He loved music. The rear window of his work truck showed a sign declaring: “I Hafta Hear Haydn.” To those who would share his interests he offered friendship. He was my friend. Goodbye Fred, “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”