Willa Jean Langfield Frey, 83, of Fairbanks, passed peacefully, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at her home with daughter, Sandy, by her side.
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Born Aug. 12, 1929, in Paisley, Ore., she was the oldest of three children. She married her childhood sweetheart, Al Frey in 1948.
She was instrumental in moving the family to Fairbanks in 1957, to look for adventure and leave the heat of California behind. They loaded up the family car and old flatbed Studebaker and drove the gravel Alcan Highway with three young children. Always one to put their faith in God, they figured they'd find work and a home when they arrived, and they did.
After the birth of their fourth child and managing to get everyone into school, Willa attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she received a degree in elementary education. She began her teaching career at Chena School on Fort Wainwright, while continuing her own education, eventually receiving a master's degree from UAF.
At age 57, she started her second career, retirement. She wanted to give back to the community that had been so gracious to her family. During the next 26 years she volunteered with many organizations in the community: the Resource Center for Parents and Children, Crisis Line, Fairbanks Community Food Bank, Literacy Council, working with victims of domestic violence, Court Watch, and Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Willa was known as a woman of faith. She was an ordained minister in Community of Christ and wrote regularly for many years for the Faith page of the Daily News-Miner. She was also a regular contributor to an annual book of daily devotions, Daily Bread, published by Herald House Publishing. She made many friends through her writing. She devoted her life to living the principles of the Gospel.
She was devoted to her children, then grandchildren and finally great-grandchildren. She believed in strength and unity of the family and no matter our differences, she found a way to pull us together. She was our glue. As her death was expected, family and friends traveled from across the country and state of Alaska to bid her farewell. Some of her last visits were with her great-granddaughters from Eagle River and her 2-year-old, twin great-grandsons who never ceased to entertain her as well as give her lots of hugs and kisses. Her greatest legacy was one of unconditional love for us all.
Willa possessed an irrepressible spirit. Long after the red faded from her hair, she retained that fiery nature. Her quick wit and determination to have her say in everything made the last few years of her life another adventure for those of us surrounding her. Whether it was driving a car or walking unaccompanied, she was sure she was capable long after the skill faded. We shared many laughs along this journey.
Willa was preceded in death by her beloved husband and best friend, Al Frey; her parents, Lynn and Grace Langfield; her twin, Weldon Langfield, and younger brother, Lynn Stanley Langfield.
She is survived by her children Clyde Phillips-Frey (Buffalo, NY), Bonnie Vargason (North Pole), Sandy Besser (Fairbanks) and Beverly Frey (Fairbanks), along with their spouses, seven grandchildren and their spouses and eight great-grandchildren, countless nieces and nephews and her sister-in-law and good friend, Janet Landry (Anchorage).
Willa asked that we celebrate her life with joy! A service of celebration will be held after the first of the year. Notification will be published prior to the service. Anyone wishing to celebrate her life is welcome to come and share with us at that time.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank or Breast Cancer Detection Center of Fairbanks in her memory.
Arrangements were by Fairbanks Funeral Home and Crematory.
Published in Daily News-Miner from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10, 2012