Martha Tracy Frey
1915 - 2010
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 [email protected] (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
Published by Bakersfield Californian from Jun. 17 to Jun. 20, 2010.
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7 Entries
Martha Frey was a wise woman and a great artist I would Know because i took care of her in her last momments. I was her great grand-daughter. You can contact me at [email protected]
Madeline Frey
July 15, 2011
My dad Victor C. Brown, was close friends with Tilton from when they were just boys, and so knew Martha well. Our family sends condolences to the Tracy, Frey, and Rowlee families. I have so many good memories of the Tracy ranch, and the times we spent there each fall. Thanks and God Bless,

Kevin Brown
October 30, 2010
Kind regards to the family of Martha Frey.
I've known her name for many years because I have prints of two illustrations she did, perhaps for a nursery. They are both rendered in a fanciful curlicue design - a yellow giraffe and a pink horse, both with extravagant eyelashes. I love these prints, but if your family would like to have them, I will be happy to send them.
My sincere condolences,
Alison J Roe
[email protected]
September 18, 2010
My loving thoughts and memories of Martha are sent to her family who have always known,I'm sure,that she was a precious jewel of inspiration and kindness ! You were blessed to have had her with you all this time!
Linda DeStefani
June 23, 2010
MIke Frey - I am very sorry to hear another wonderful western icon, your grandma, has left this earth...may you find solace in memories of her joy...
Cindi Weldon-Cagle
June 23, 2010
Nancy and Larry, I so enjoyed your folks friendship when we all played tennis together out at Rio
Bravo Tennis Club. I hope you both are well and I am sorry for your loss, as your mom was such fun. Linda Wedel
Linda Wedel
June 18, 2010
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories. I was blessed to be a student of Mrs. Frey. My heart has alway been filled with memories of her. She inspired me to be the teacher that I am. Martha was a special gift to all the children she encountered and she shared her knowledge and love with each and every one. When I look at art I often think of Mrs. Frey and her classroom at Buttonwillow school. Her classroom was a work of art in progress. I think of all the children she inspired to create and be. My precious memory was when we were working on individual mosaics and I was working on a sun mosic. I couldn't get the smile of the sun to fit. She guided me and let me figure it out without doing it for me. This was a very difficult time for me and I was having trouble smiling. Her classroom was a place that brought in the sunshine and the smiles. I still have the mosaic and the memory. I want to thank the family for sharing this gifted person with the world and many children of Buttonwillow School. She will live on in my heart and I will keep her in my prayers for I know that she helped me be the person and teacher I am today. I am so grateful that I grew up in a time when we had art in the classroom and Mrs. Frey was my Art Teacher.
Jane Morones-Ferdinand
Jane Morones-Ferdinand
June 17, 2010
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