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OBITUARY: Bob Frederick

March 30, 2023
By Staff Report

Bob Frederick, a much-loved father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away on March 22, 2023, with family at his side. Born in Elkhart, Indiana in 1926, Bob grew up there with his parents and older brother. Like so many others of the “Greatest Generation”, Bob served in the Navy in World War II.

After the war, he went on to study economics at DePauw University, where he met the love of his life, Carolyn Smith. Carolyn and Bob were married in 1949, and had 67 years of love, respect and laughter until Carolyn’s passing in 2016. Upon graduation from DePauw, Bob began his 34-year career with GE in its advertising department in Connecticut. He climbed the pyramid, switching jobs and mailing addresses every few years. In 1973, he became group executive of consumer products. In 1977, he was put in charge of corporate planning and development, and then in 1979 he settled in as executive vice president in charge of international operations. Bob left GE in 1982 to become President and Chief Operating Officer of RCA. In 1984 he assumed the mantel of Chief Executive Officer.

After his retirement, Bob stayed active in a number of national and international organizations that addressed transnational issues and government policy. For example, he was Chairman of the Board of National Foreign Trade Council, a member of the Board of Governors of the Foreign Policy Association and was the US Representative on the Economic Advisory Committee to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) in Paris– to name a few.

Throughout his life he remained a dedicated member of the DePauw University community, serving on the Board of Trustees for many years, including a stint as Chairman of the Board. Due to his commitment to ethics in business, he and Carolyn endowed the Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Ethics at the University. Bob’s desire to be involved and share his talents extended to organizations in Boca Grande. Bob played an important role in strengthening the business operations of the Boca Grande Clinic, through his work with the Clinic Foundation.

He was also involved with the GICIA, the Men’s Club and the Lighthouse Methodist Church. In addition to his love for Boca Grande, Bob and Carolyn spent countless summers at Walloon Lake in Michigan. There, they enjoyed family, the Lake, and the many Boca friends who also summer there. Those who knew Bob knew his quick wit, his dry sense of humor and his joy in playing his harmonica. But to really know who Bob was, you must look beyond his professional and volunteer accomplishments to his family.

In addition to his deep love for his wife Carolyn, his daughters and their families held a very important and special place in his life and his heart. He recently wrote that the most important thing to know about who he is “is my love of my Family”. Bob is survived by his daughter Sara Frederick-Holton and her husband Mike, his daughter Jane Rodas, and her husband Remy. Six grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren, and extended family members are also mourning his passing. 

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday April 15 at 11 a.m. at Boca’s Lighthouse Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Bob’s memory to the Carolyn & Robert Frederick Ethics Chair at DePauw University (Robert Bottoms Alumni & Development Center, 201 East Seminary Rd. PO Box 37, Greencastle, IN 46135) or the Boca Grande Hope for Haitians.