Freda Mae (Rustemeyer) De Pillis(1924 - 2013)

AMHERST - Freda Mae (Rustemeyer) De Pillis passed away Feb. 23, 2013. She was able to live at home until May 26, 2012.

Freda was the third of the four daughters of Julia (Bogler) Rustemeyer and Ferdinand "Fred" Rustemeyer. She was born Aug. 27, 1924, on the family farm on Pointers Creek in Linn, Osage County, Mo.

She attended a one-room schoolhouse on Pointers Creek. After graduating from Linn High School in 1942, Freda moved to St. Louis, where she worked at various jobs until the spring of 1947, when she signed a two-year contract to work for the U.S. occupation forces in Tokyo, Japan, processing payroll.

Always a voracious reader and keen of mind, her experience in Japan deepened her desire for education. She decided to apply to the College of the University of Chicago and was admitted in 1949. She met her husband there, whom she married in 1952.

Freda graduated with a bachelor's of arts from the college and a master's in psychiatric social work. She had a varied career in hospitals, psychiatric institutions and family counseling agencies in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Haven and Northampton. She spent most of her career at the Northampton agency, Children's Aid and Family Service. She specialized in marital counseling and adoption. After retirement she volunteered for Not Bread Alone (a community meal program), Tapestry (a community-based non-profit family planning and reproductive health services provider) and taught English to immigrants and visiting academic spouses. She also served in Amherst Town Meeting.

Freda was a feminist, beginning in the 1940's when she was denied training in animal husbandry in rural Missouri because she was a girl. She was less interested in feminist ideology than concrete equal rights. She cheered when she saw the first woman linesman climbing a telephone pole. She opposed America's role in the war in Vietnam, joining the weekly peace vigil on the town common in Amherst.

Freda kept a journal from age 11 until no longer able. These she transcribed and they are now part of the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Freda is survived by her husband of 61 years, Mario S. De Pillis, Sr., and their sons, Vincent B. De Pillis (wife Kristin Bedell) of Seattle, with granddaughters Lydia and Sophia; Mario S. De Pillis, Jr., (wife Anne H. Walton) of Amherst with grandsons Alexander A. ("Rex") De Pillis and Rafael; and Alexander F. De Pillis (fiancée Debra Pinsof) of Montpelier Vt.; and her older sister, Dorothy, of St. Louis, Mo.

Her sisters, Marcella and Mary Ellen, predeceased her.

The family thanks the caregivers whose compassion and care provided her the best possible quality of life during her last years.

A memorial service will be held at Douglass Funeral Service in Amherst on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the Amherst Senior Center, 70 Boltwood Walk, Amherst, MA 01002.

Obituary and memorial register at

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Funeral Home

Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 253-3407

Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 27, 2013