A caring, sensitive man, Fred was known and admired for his generosity and kindness.

Those qualities, however, did not dilute his stubborn opinions or passionate nature. No, no one would nominate him for canonization, but he did indeed give his heart and support to those in need, even strangers. He lived his mantra: “You have to help people.”

Fred actively supported worthy causes whose altruistic goals he wholeheartedly embraced. Among his many contributions to good works, he served as board president of Haven House, a shelter for battered women and their children; he was board president of Pasadena’s Bank Playhouse, San Gabriel Valley Players and South Pasadena Playhouse; and he donated generously to numerous musical, theater, animal welfare and political organizations. Fred believed in helping young minds achieve their potential. A modest man, he established an anonymous scholarship to fund a student’s education at Berkeley, and he acted as mentor and life coach to so many young people.

His passions were music (opera, in particular), trains and politics. He lectured for Opera Coeur d’Alene; served on the board of the Idaho chapter of the ACLU and as a former president of the Kootenai County Democrats; and was secretary of the Train Riders Association of California at the time of his death.

A skilled writer whose editorials appeared in various publications, and a voracious reader known to read the back of cereal boxes at breakfast if nothing else was handy, Fred also was a great intellectual sparring partner and stimulating correspondent, able to veer from one subject to another with grace and alacrity. Yet he never forgot to listen. Congenial and respectful, he challenged his interlocutors to reflect and defend their positions, question their assumptions without engendering malice or resentment. I had the pleasure of interacting with Fred for several years about books, Dante, opera, history, politics, writing and etymology.

He was a learned and entertaining man — a friend. I will miss our exchanges and I mourn his loss deeply.

At his most elemental, in his soul, Fred was an absolute equalitarian who “never met a stranger.” He enjoyed nothing more than getting together with his countless friends. They gave him energy and enriched his life, as he enriched theirs.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at Cabot & Sons Funeral Home in Pasadena, Calif. Burial service will follow.

— James W. Ziskin, admirer and friend

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