Martha Tracy Frey
1915 - 2010
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Martha Tracy Frey 1915 - 2010 Martha May Tracy Frey, Kern County artist, art teacher and author, passed away on June 11, 2010 at her home in Bakersfield. She was 95 years old. Her health had been failing for several months. Her devoted care giver, Mina Pinales and the gentle guidance of Optimal Hospice made it possible for Martha to remain at home to the end. Martha was born to Fannie C. and William Tracy at the Bakersfield home of her grandparents, Martha and Charles W. Rowlee, on May 7, 1915. She was fifth born and last survivor of six Tracy children: brothers, Cecil and Darrel; a sister, Frances: a brother, Charles Wellington (called Teddy) who died at age 8 of scarlet fever; and younger brother, Tilton. Martha lived most of her life on the Tracy Ranch in Buttonwillow or in Bakersfield, graduating from Bakersfield High School. An artist from an early age, in 1937 Martha Tracy graduated with a bachelor's degree in Art Education from UCLA following two years at Bakersfield Junior College. After graduation she taught art at a school in Fellows, living in the teacherage. She married Jack Myron Frey, a graduate of UC Davis in Animal Science in 1938, and lived in Oilfields, CA (near Coalinga) for four years while Jack worked as a roustabout. Their two children, Nancy Jane and Lawrence William were born at the Pleasant Valley Hospital in Coalinga. Martha's mother, Fannie Tracy, widowed with land and no one to develop it, lured four of her five surviving children and their spouses back to the ranch to establish a farming partnership that eventually developed into Tracy Ranch, Inc. Thus, Martha returned to her childhood home, with Jack working on developing the farming operation and she busying herself with creating an attractive and creative home. Twice more she returned to teaching art at Buttonwillow Elementary school. Under her inspiration, the students produced large mosaic art murals that still adorn the halls of the school. Jack was gratified that Larry and four of his cousins followed their fathers into the expanding family farming business. Martha and her sister Frances were early-on enthusiastic participants in the annual race for Honorary Mayor of Buttonwillow (the most honest election in the country-10 cents per vote-all for charity) to benefit the March of Dimes. Martha contributed art posters, slogans and decorations while Frances wrote skits, designed props and trained local acting talent. Martha and Jack each served terms as Honorary Mayor of Buttonwillow. Martha was skilled in painting, mosaic, embroidery, soft sculpture and paper-mâché. In 1998 she became an author. Taking up the thread of her mother Fannie Tracy's autobiography The Tracy Saga, Martha began writing her autobiography, Portrait of a Western Family. It was published in 2003 and offers a unique perspective on rural Western ranch life in the last three quarters of the 20th century. When Jack M. Frey, her beloved husband of 63 years, passed away in 2002 Martha moved to Bakersfield and spent her remaining years there. Martha's creativity never ceased and demanded outlets within months of her death. When she was 92, she launched a line of greeting cards that gave satisfaction to her muse for several years. Martha Tracy Frey is survived by her children, Nancy Frey Stacy and Larry Frey; grandchildren, Tracy Koll of Atlanta, Carla DeFraine of Irvine, Michael Frey and Jack R. Frey of Buttonwillow, and Stephen Frey of Camarillo; great-grandchildren, Justin and Nicholas Frey, Ian Koll, Evan and Aislen DeFraine, Wade and Madeline Frey and Meghan Midzor-Frey. A Celebration of Martha Frey's Life will be held for family and friends on Tuesday, June 22, from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m., at the Stockdale Country Club. Please notify the family for planning purposes if you wish to attend: email (preferred) or leave a message on the recorder at 661-392-8421 (Larry's house) with your name and the number of persons in your party. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be directed in memory of Martha Frey to the Optimal Hospice Foundation at (1315 Boughton Dr., Bakersfield, CA 93308 // or Bakersfield College Scholarship Foundation (1801 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93305), or to a charity of your choice. Interment will be private. (Photo courtesy of Iger Studio.) Doughty-Calhoun-O'Meara

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Published in Bakersfield Californian from Jun. 17 to Jun. 20, 2010.