Tag Archives: obituary

Champion of the North Fork John Frederick dies

John Frederick at the 1987 Polebridge Forth of July parade
John Frederick at the 1987 Polebridge Forth of July parade

John Frederick, champion of the North Fork and a founder of the North Fork Preservation Association, died today following a long illness. John passed away peacefully, his final weeks filled with the affection, laughter and tears of friends, family and well-wishers.

Here is John’s obituary, written by long-time friend and North Fork historian Lois Walker. We’ll post additional information as it becomes available . . .

Long-time Polebridge resident and champion of the North Fork, John Frederick, Jr., passed away on November 15. He was 74.

He was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1943, to John and Betty Watson Frederick. He attended school in Marion, Ohio, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969, stationed for almost two years in Alaska.

John moved to Montana in 1976, living first near Olney and then at Rogers Lake. In the fall of 1978, he and his former wife purchased a residence in Polebridge and converted it into the North Fork Hostel. He managed the Hostel with welcoming grace for nearly 30 years, providing comfortable and hospitable lodging for travelers from around the globe and a popular gathering place for North Fork events.

He was an ardent outdoorsman, hiking the trails and camping in Glacier National Park and the Whitefish Range, navigating the lakes and rivers of the area, participating in Mountain Man Rendezvous events, and supporting a wide range of wildlife initiatives and wilderness proposals.

John Frederick with Bernie the Toe-Biter- photo by Carol Vuchetich
John Frederick with Bernie the Toe-Biter- photo by Carol Vuchetich

In 1982, he founded the North Fork Preservation Association to advocate against paving of the North Fork Road and to promote protection of the North Fork River from proposed coal mining operations in the Canadian Flathead. He served as president of the organization for nearly 30 years. NFPA annual meetings became a fixture of North Fork summer fare, with interesting and educational speakers. The NFPA also supported extensive trail maintenance and fire lookout preservation in the Hungry Horse Ranger District, as well as preservation of the Kishenehn Ranger Station in Glacier National Park.

He served on the board of directors of the North Fork Improvement Association for many years. He was also a member of the North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee and a board member of the former Glacier National Park Associates. He served on the board of Headwaters Montana for many years, participated in the recent Whitefish Range Partnership, and was a member of numerous conservation associations and initiatives.

From 1983-1985 John authored a weekly column about North Fork happenings in the Hungry Horse News. He inevitably served as announcer for the eclectic and unpredictable Polebridge 4th of July parade and earned the well-deserved honorific “Mayor of Polebridge.” He was a long-time member of North Valley Search and Rescue, and also helped found the Polebridge Irregulars fire-fighting team.

John Frederick at home in October 2011
John Frederick at home in October 2011

In 2014 he received a Conservation Achievement Award from the Flathead Audubon Society in honor of his 35-year effort to keep the North Fork wild. He will be long and well remembered for his soft-mannered yet persistent personality, his wry sense of humor, his dedication to environmental consciousness, and his tireless efforts in the interests of wildlife and wilderness conservation.

He is survived by a sister, Bonnie Lee Hankey, of Harveysburg, Ohio, a brother Alfred William Frederick (Imaculada) of Tampa, Fla., and nine nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and nephews.

Burial will be at Woodlawn Cemetery in Columbia Falls. Announcement of a celebration of John’s life will be forthcoming.

‘Mac’ McNeil dies

Ed McNeil, known in the North Fork as “Mac,” died February 8. Those who moved to the North Fork in the last ten years or so did not have the pleasure to meet him as he has been ailing for a long time. He and his wife Cecily bought land in the North Fork some fifty-five years ago which made them some of the earliest of the summer residents.

I have known Ed for thirty-five years, but did not fully know his accomplishments until I read the obituary below. He was a private kind of person. His wife Cecily was a board member of NFPA for a long time during the early years of that organization. Their son Alan is on the current NFPA board.

John Frederick


Edward Bowen McNeil
Edward Bowen McNeil

Edward Bowen McNeil, 93, passed away Feb. 8, 2015, in Kalispell.

Edward was born in Chicago on May 11, 1921. His parents were Grace Barr Bowen of Logan, Ohio, and Dr. Claude Perkins McNeil of Mansfield, Ohio. The family lived in Whiting, Indiana, where Dr. McNeil, a chemist, was head of the Asphalt Division of Standard Oil of California. Edward’s siblings were Robert McNeil and Jean McNeil.

Edward attended the Whiting Public Schools from elementary through high school. From childhood, music was important in his life; he studied cello from an early age, was first desk in the national award-winning Whiting High School Orchestra and was also in the All-Chicago chorus. In 1939 he entered Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, majoring in physics. He was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa and several societies on campus: the French Club, Phi Mu Alpha (music), and Ye Merrie Players. He was active in campus stage and musical productions as stage manager.

In 1943 Edward graduated from college cum laude and was immediately hired by Miami University to teach physics to the V-12s (the Navy Officer Training Program). When he was drafted in 1944 he enlisted in the Navy, which put him in the EDDY program for radar and electronic repair. After he graduated from the EDDY program, the Navy retained him as an instructor and he was stationed at Navy Pier in Chicago, which was one of three national radar/sonar schools. (Radar was new in those days.)

Discharged after World War II ended, Edward obtained an assistantship at the University of Illinois in Urbana, teaching physics. During that time, he met his future wife, Cecily Rideout, of Marin County, California, who was a graduate student in library science at Illinois. They were married in July of 1948 in Ross, California. Two sons were born to the couple, Alan Rideout McNeil and Bruce Bowen McNeil.

Edward became an assistant professor at the University of Illinois before obtaining his doctorate in physics and continued to teach there until 1954. Some time after earning his doctorate, he accepted a position at the University of Illinois in Chicago, which was then at Navy Pier.

Edward taught at the University of Illinois in Chicago for nearly 40 years. More interested in teaching than in research, he was proud to receive the Circle Award from the U of I in Chicago for Excellence in Teaching. He was also proud to be one of the founders of the Illinois State Physics project, which continues to this day.

That project gathers physics teachers of all academic levels once a month to share new information and ideas about teaching, most especially to recharge the enthusiasm of the teachers. It quickly became an important support group for the profession.

For three summers in the 1960s, Edward taught physics teachers in India, under a program sponsored by USAID. At that time he traveled extensively in India — Assam, Calcutta, Madras, Kerala, Bombay, Mysore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Tanjore.

Edward maintained a keen interest in architecture. Trained by his father to be a skilled carpenter, he was eventually able to realize his dream by building a cabin for his family in the valley of the North Fork of the Flathead. This effort took several summers, and was accomplished without power tools.

He also maintained his interest in music, playing string quartet at least one night a week with competent amateurs in Chicago, and playing cello in the annual performance of “The Messiah” at Orchestra Hall, as well as performing with the orchestra for the Chicago Gilbert and Sullivan group. Interlochen Music Camp has a cello scholarship in Edward’s name.

In 1990, Edward and his wife Cecily retired to Kalispell, where Edward immediately volunteered for the Glacier Orchestra. He was on the board of the orchestra for several years and in 1997 was a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.

Edward’s grandchildren include Henry Chesna McNeil, Fiona Reed McNeil, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Anna Crandall McNeil, Ellie Rideout McNeil, and Edward Bowen McNeil II.

Gift’s in his memory may be given to the Glacier Symphony.

Update on the passing of Bettie Jacobsen

[UPDATED] As mentioned earlier here, Bettie Jacobsen passed away in Seattle on September 24 at the age of 96. A very nice obituary, including photos from her life, is now available online. Here’s an abstract from the longer, quite fascinating online piece:

Bettie (Elizabeth Colby) Jacobsen passed away at her family home on Naomi Place, Seattle, on September 24, 2011. Her passing ended a life of adventure and good works. After retiring, Bettie joined her daughter, Karen, in Polebridge, Montana, where they ran the Mercantile and Northern Lights Saloon. She was there 9 years then joined the Peace Corps. She celebrated her 80th birthday in Sri Lanka where she taught English. Bettie was a remarkable women and helped many people both personally and financially. She is survived by her youngest daughter Sally Hileman and Sally’ husband Terry Hileman of Bellingham, Washington, daughter Karen Feather of Coram, Montana, grandson David Silverstein of Polebridge and Columbia Falls, Montana, granddaughter Sage Silverstein and great grandson, Darien Davison, both of Eugene, Oregon. She was preceded in death by her third daughter Susan in 1974, and her eldest daughter Barbara in 2002.

Remembrances can be made in Bettie’s name to The Peace alliance, P. O. Box 27601, Washington D. C. 20038 or online at thepeacealliance.org.

Roy Duff

John Frederick reports . . .

Some of you never had the chance to meet Roy Duff because he hasn’t been to his cabin on Moose Creek for a long time. He died November 14.

When I saw Roy Duff, he used to say in a high-pitched voice out of the side of his mouth opposite to the cigar, “How the hell are you John.” This was his standard greeting.

Roy had a long busy life and I thought you might like to read about him.

Continue reading Roy Duff