MANCHESTER CENTER - Manfred W. Ehrich Jr. died May 15, 2012, at Equinox Village where he and his late wife, Elane, were residents since 2009. Fred was born in New York City on Nov. 2, 1914.
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Educated at Dalton, Taft and Yale and earning a degree at Harvard Law School in 1940, Fred practiced for a year in his father's law firm in NYC before going on active duty in 1941 as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army. In August 1942, he was posted to the Aleutian Islands, came home in May 1944 for a short leave and then was posted to Italy until his discharge in 1945.
While Fred was on active duty he and his first wife, Lea Ehrich, decided she would move with their three children to Arlington. Fred joined his family in Arlington after the war, but since he was not a "native," Vermont required two years' residency before he could be admitted to practice law. Surveying many parcels of land in Bennington County and teaching English at Burr & Burton kept food on the table. Former students still fondly remember the war stories he told in class, which he said was one way to get them interested in English. In 1947, he hung out his shingle in Bennington where he practiced law for 49 years. In 1956, he argued a case for a wrongfully terminated employee before the United States Supreme Court. During oral argument, Justice Frankfurter asked him a question. Stalling to collect his thoughts, he said, "You know, your honor, that's a difficult question." Justice Frankfurter replied, "You wouldn't want me to ask you an easy one, would you?" Fred won the case.
Fred did not resign his commission after World War II and continued in the Reserves. In 1951, he was called back to active duty and served in Korea until he was wounded in action. After that, he completed 30 years as a reserve officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
Fred was deeply involved with local politics (Republican brand), in numerous community services in Bennington County and with his neighbors, helping chop wood and other chores. He wrote an anecdotal book (proceeds to benefit the Arlington Community Club) about his early years as a "flatlander" making friends with Vermonters. In addition to all his civic activities, he always found time for his young family, taking the kids hiking, horseback riding and teaching them how to sail on Lake Champlain in canoes which he had himself outfitted with striped canvas sails made from old awnings.
In 1971, Fred and Lea divorced and he married Elane Granger. He and Elane lived in Bennington until 2009 when they moved to Equinox Village in Manchester.
When Fred retired from his law practice at the age of 80 ("Don't tell anyone but my secretary is retiring."), he donned his trademark red suspenders and was elected to the Vermont state Senate where he served two terms. Afterward, even though not running for office, he wore red suspenders which shone a light on his playful side and the keen and charming wit enjoyed by him, his family and his friends. His list of talents were endless: he skied, he sailed, he rode horseback, he fashioned furniture with hand tools, he sang in the church choir. He will be deeply missed but forever appreciated by his family, his friends and the community.
Fred is survived by his children, Perez Ehrich and his wife, Elizabeth, of Arlington, Jessie Lea Abbott and her husband, Curtiss, of Sisters, Ore., Andy Livingston and his partner, Donna Ryan, of Cape Neddick, Maine, and Raymond Granger and his wife, Sylvia, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; by his grandchildren, Gillian Ehrich, Shannon Ehrich-Warren, Clay Perkins, Zander Livingston, Birchard, Rutherford and Sarah Hayes, Jeannette, Luisa and Sarah Ehrich, Ursula van Heel, John Karhu, Travis Granger and Karen Williams; and by his great-grandchildren, Manfred "Bucky" and Gunther Hayes, Cameron Sloan, Lucy and Zinia Sheps, Hadley and Merritt Perkins, Carmella and Joseph Livingston, Owen Williams, Jonathan and Anna Karhu, and Eric and Christopher van Heel. Fred's oldest son, Manfred W. "Terry" Ehrich III, predeceased him in 2002, and Elane predeceased him in 2010. His children Perez and Jessie are twins, and he had a twin sister, Dona, who predeceased him in 2000.
A celebration of Fred's life will be held in Bennington on Saturday, July 14, at a time to be announced. Private committal services will take place at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Fred's memory may be made to the Bennington Museum through Mahar & Son Funeral Home, 626 Main St., Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Times Argus on May 18, 2012