Thursday, August 19, 2004

Theodore Frey, 96, commodities broker

WWII vet also grew soybeans

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

Theodore Francis Frey, a Cincinnati commodities broker who had a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade, died Aug. 11 in San Jose, Calif. He was 96.

"My father always showed courage in life - from when he was 18 and his father died and he had to take care of his mother and brother to when he, unarmed, chased hunters off our farm," said his daughter, Susan Frey of San Jose.

"He was equally courageous in death. On Aug. 11, when he woke up, he announced that he was going to die and at 4:10 p.m. he died, smiling at me until the very end. His last gift to me was showing me that death is nothing to fear."

Mr. Frey was born in Cincinnati on Jan. 5, 1908, and grew up in Madisonville. After his father died, he assumed responsibility for his mother, Cecilia, and his brother, Gordon, who was 13 at the time.

He participated in the work-study program at the University of Cincinnati, which enabled him to earn money while working toward a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He got the degree in 1930 and supported Gordon, who is now 91 and living in New Orleans, until his brother received his doctoral degree.

Because jobs were difficult to come by - even for a man with a college degree - during the Great Depression, Mr. Frey worked in the WPA program after college. In 1942 he joined the Navy, where he navigated blimps in search of enemy submarines during World War II.

He spent part of the war in Portugal, where he taught himself to speak Portuguese and was used as a translator.

Back in Cincinnati after the war, Mr. Frey worked as a broker through Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 1968. He bought a farm near Milford in the 1940s and raised soybeans. He was chosen by the Kennedy administration to work in Mexico and Chile to promote the use of soybeans as a protein source, according to his daughter.

Mr. Frey was an avid tennis player, bowler and bridge player.

He "had a great sense of humor and was cracking jokes until the day he died," his daughter said. "He was pretty much irrepressible. For example, he had a terrible singing voice, but that didn't stop him from belting out hymns in church."

Mr. Frey and his wife, Pauline Easter Frey, retired to Mobile, Ala., in 1968. She died there in 1997, after 55 years of marriage. Mr. Frey suffered a broken hip after falling in 1999 and moved to San Jose to be near his daughter.

In addition to his daughter and brother, he is survived by two grandchildren.

Mr. Frey's remains were cremated. There will be a prayer service 6 p.m. Aug. 31 at St. Victor Church in San Jose.

Memorials: University of Cincinnati, 2624 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45221.


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