ESCHEW THE PLEBEIAN WAY
From Joe Gillespie, Dallas, Texas (grand nephew)
I’ll always remember Fred as a larger-than-life man who I met as a wide-eyed kid on my first visit to Seattle back before you guys were married. It was our epic drive from Dallas to Seattle in the family Suburban. I think it was the summer of 1989. Fred and Kathy were so nice to me, made us all laugh, and immediately made us feel at ease around D-D’s family.
I remember thinking that Fred must know everything about all things and he had, of course, an incredible voice. His voice was booming but not harsh. His voice resonated in the room after he said anything. He could say something simple but it felt profound.
Later, when I became an English major and tore through every Hemingway novel, my mental image of Hemingway and his protagonists was always somehow Fred. So to me, Fred watched the bulls run in Pamplona, drank Pernod absinthe in the cafes of Paris, swam in the waters of San Sebastion, rode in an ambulance in the war in Italy, and saw and wrote of the frozen leopard on Mount Kilimanjaro. And though I did not know him well at all, the few times I met him, he surely gave the impression that he had done all of those things and more.
I don’t remember if it was on the first trip, or some later trip to Seattle, that either Fred told me or I heard he had told someone else that his advice in life was to “eschew the plebeian way.” It was probably a Fred legend by the time I heard it. It is still a phrase I think about whenever I hear the word “eschew” or the word “plebeian” and it brings a smile to my face.
I’m glad to have met him, even if it was just a few times and just briefly. He was pretty incredible.
Fred pictured above in the 1940s.