Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Robert Fretz: 1952-2023


Bob Fretz was born in New Jersey in 1952. He graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University in 1974 with a political science degree. He joined the US Customs Service and worked in the Bahamas, Miami, and Key Largo, Florida.

In 1978, Bob became a Foreign Service diplomat in the State Department, serving in Washington, D.C., Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Denmark, Guinea-Bissau, Belize, London, and Barbados.

He is the holder of the 13th annual Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding service to American citizens abroad, the Secretary's Career Achievement Award from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Superior Honor Award for leading the 2004 evacuation of 600 Americans from hurricane devastated Grenada, and Meritorious Honor awards for outstanding management in London and Barbados.

He met five presidents (Bush, Bush, Reagan, Clinton, and Carter), the entire British royal family at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and the Ascot Races, loaned Orlando Bloom $20, helped Hugh Jackman out of a bind, picnicked with Maria von Trapp (daughter), had Alice Cooper over for a beer, and appeared on nationwide TV, though often the nations weren't that wide.

Retiring to Edmonds in 2005, Bob went to Seattle Pacific University for his teaching certificate and taught at King's High School for 11 wonderful years.

Daughter Sarah was adopted at birth in Belize, coming home from the hospital two hours old. Always happy and upbeat, she was the apple of Bob's eye, and he told her constantly how much he loved her.

They laughed nonstop whenever they were together and shared a special sense of humor. She is a graduate of University of Washington and received her master's in teaching at Northwest University.

Bob spoke six languages, including Spanish, French, Danish, Portuguese, and Pidgin, the language of Papua New Guinea. He traveled to all 50 states and more than 150 countries.

He was a member of the (Winston) Churchill Center, the American Foreign Service Association, Alderwood Community Church, and on the board of directors of the Fretz Family Association, which hosted America's oldest family reunion (since 1887).

He will be buried in Deep Run West Mennonite Church in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, alongside seven of his eight ancestors, back to his sixth grandfather Weaver John Fretz, who arrived from Germany in 1725.

Bob is thankful and grateful for all the friends, students, colleagues, neighbors and relatives who were kind and helpful to him in life, particularly his daughter, the light of his life, his sister who was always there for him, and his mother who gave him his wanderlust.

His favorite Bible verse was Psalms 139:9-10: If I rise on the wings of the dawn if I settle on the far side of the sea, Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Memorial service will be held at Alderwood Community Church on July 15 at 2 p.m.