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Frederick Spielberger

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Frederick Spielberger Obituary


Frederick C. Spielberger

Resident of San Jose

March 13, 1916 - May 16, 2012

Fred Spielberger passed away in San Jose on May 16, 2012 at the age of 96 from Alzheimer's - a painful irony for a man who had Mensa-level intelligence and kept his body healthy, strong and active, often saying, "Use it or lose it."

By most accounts, Fred was a cool guy - not to say he wasn't your typical Type A: stubborn, strong-willed, and determined. He loved to tell jokes and funny stories. He collected and carried them in his pocket, ready to share humor with anyone he came across, especially while waiting for the bus, at the gym, or in line at the bank. He was also eccentric and quirky - qualities attested to by his four children and their spouses: Allen and Chris Spielberger, Cathy Spielberger Cassetta and Joe Cassetta, Rick and Rachel Spielberger, and John and Liz Spielberger. He is also survived by his granddaughters Katie Spielberger Duus and Mary Spielberger Skarbek and Katie's daughters Olivia and Penelope as well as his brother's children Don Spielberger Jr and Diann Spielberger Babel.

Fred lived a very full life that touched many, many people's lives. Born in Lorain, Ohio, he and his widowed mother and only brother moved to Alhambra, California, in the 1920s, where his mother had the opportunity to be a model for Norman Rockwell in several of his paintings. Fred attended Cathedral High School in Los Angeles and earned his Eagle Scout badge through the Pasadena Boy Scouts.

In the 1930s Fred worked as a recording engineer and on-air announcer for radio stations in Southern California and Oregon. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps early in 1941. He continued his training and was promoted to Captain, becoming an instructor in the Officer Candidate School. A highlight of his life was in 1945, when he had the opportunity and responsibility to set up the recording equipment on the 'USS Missouri' for the Japanese surrender to General MacArthur.

After the war, Fred accepted RCA Victor's position to supervise the design and construction of their recording studios in Mexico City, working his way up to Vice President, then became General Manager of Columbia Records. In Mexico City he produced and hosted his radio program 'The American Hour', which broadcast all the current pop records from the States to the American colony in Mexico City. It is through this program that he met his wife of over 50 years, Marjorie Burdick Spielberger, who passed away December 31, 2000.

In 1961 he moved his family to California because he wanted his children to grow up in "his country," settling in Willow Glen. For the next several decades he developed careers in the brokerage, insurance and mortgage businesses. He also donated countless hours to various non-profit organizations, including the Willow Glen American Legion; Willow Glen Little League, which named their Volunteer of the Year award after him; Vintage Softball League, for which he was one of the founding organizers; The Tech Museum of Innovation, for which he was one of the original volunteers, often volunteering more than 1500 hours a year. Fluent in Spanish, he also volunteered to assist low-income Spanish-speaking residents with tax preparation.

On his 80th birthday he received the good news that he had been selected by Coca-Cola to carry the Olympic Torch in 1996 in acknowledgement of his many and significant contributions to the community. That was a very proud and special moment in his life. Once he turned 80, he said he was going to live life his way. And he did. Not that he hadn't the 79 years before, but now he did it, as Frank sang, "My Way."

The family is grateful to the staffs of Atria Willow Glen and ProHealth Hospice for the excellent and compassionate care they provided Fred.

Per his preference, no service was held.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on June 24, 2012
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