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Frederick Ludwig Thielking

Obituary Condolences

BONDVILLE -- Frederick Ludwig Thielking of Bondville died peacefully in his sleep at home on Wednesday, April 20, 2004. He was 76 years old. He had lived in Vermont for 14 years, having retired there with his wife Gertrude after some 20 years of weekend skiing at Stratton.

Fred was born in the Bronx, N.Y., the first child of Ludwig and Mathilda Thielking, both German immigrants. A series of missed opportunities at returning to America left the young family stranded in Germany during the war. Ludwig was separated from his wife and children; the twins, Hilde and Rudy, were sent to the country for safekeeping and 14-year-old Fred was left his mother’s sole protector.

Surviving all this made him a decisive, take-action, unusually mature teen who aspired to post-war success and a better life.

His talents were recognized at his first business internship at the Sugar and Coffee Exchange in Bremen, Germany. At 18 he returned to America on his own to pursue his passion for business, living in Manhattan with relatives who ran a German delicatessen. He worked various jobs while completing his GED and his undergraduate degree at City College of New York.

While still a student, Fred met his future wife and graceful dancing partner, Gertrude Engels. Also a first-generation German American, Gertrude studied art and literature at Hunter College in New York City. They were married in June 1953, immediately thereafter Fred was drafted into the U.S. Army. Fred and Gertrude’s first child, Erik, was born a year later, followed by Wanda in 1957, Mark in 1967 and Kristin in 1969.

Upon leaving the army, Fred joined the firm of Industrial Commodities in New York City, working as a forecasting consultant. At the same time he commenced an MBA program at NYU, completing a degree in economics. He then launched his commodities career in earnest, working at such major firms as Isbrandtsen Shipping Co., where he quickly grew his department into a successful enterprise importing, marketing, and representing sugar cooperatives in Philippines. One of his most memorable achievements was buying an unused sugar mill in Puerto Rico and shipping it back to the Philippines, rebuilding it in the name of First Farmers Sugar Cooperative and avoiding excessive costs that would have burdened the farmers for years to come. This mill is still in operation under the same leadership to this day.

Subsequently, he built his career at firms including Merrill Lynch, Paine Webber, Jardine Gill and Duffus, Farr Mann and Company, maintaining his contact with the Far East and the sugar trade while expanding his business in the V.S.A until retiring in 1988.

His integrity and deeply personal commitment to his many colleagues forged a worldwide network of associations that yielded both business success and lifelong friendships. Always ready to extend hospitality, Fred and Gertrude were gracious and caring hosts to a constant stream of international visitors during their 26 years at White Oak Tree Road in Laurel Hollow, Long Island. Yet during those years, their first priority was always spending time with their young family. Fred was a lover of adventure and went on numerous ski weekends, sailing expeditions, bike rides and tennis outings. All of these led to a rich store of memories for all involved.

In retirement, Fred kept up his tennis, skiing and golf and became in active member of the First Congregational Church of Manchester. His faithful service extended to the church’s mission committee, the Diaconet Endowment Management Board, the Interfaith Board and the larger Congregational Church. His participation in the Battenkill Investor Club gave him much pleasure, and others, fair gain. He and Gertrude continued to entertain guests regularly and to enjoy visits with their children, sons- and daughters-in-law, and 13 grandchildren.

The funeral service will be held on Sunday, April 25, at noon at the First Congregational Church in Manchester Village. A reception will follow in the church Vestry. Friends may call on Saturday, April 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Brewster Funeral Home in Manchester. Memorial gifts may be made to the Mountain Valley Medical Clinic C/O Brewster Funeral Service, P.O. Box 885, Manchester VT 05255.

For directions or to send the Thielking family e-mail condolences, please consult www.sheafuneralhomes.com.
Published in Bennington Banner on Apr. 23, 2004
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