Fredrick Owen ("Fred") Aldrich, 76, died peacefully on December 2, 2020, in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. Born December 24, 1943, in Sycamore, Illinois, he was raised in small towns in North-Central Kansas, including Bellaire and Osborne. Fred was descended from generations of Midwestern farmers, and worked his first full-time summer job as a farmhand when he was only thirteen. He graduated from Osborne High in 1961, then earned B.A. and B.S. degrees from the University of Kansas in 1966. He treasured his years at KU, forming many lifelong friendships, and he remained a Jayhawk fan for life. The next years brought him to places as varied as southern Mississippi and southern California. He taught high school in the rural Kansas towns of Belle Plaine and Olpe, worked for local newspapers in Emporia, Kansas, and Purvis, Mississippi, and lived in Los Angeles in the garage apartment of famed composer and musician Les Baxter. While in California, he worked a variety of jobs – including as a valet and bartender at Hollywood parties in the early 1970s. When fame and fortune in the entertainment industry eluded him, he headed back east. Fred moved to Louisiana in the mid-1970s and continued his teaching career at Catholic of Pointe Coupee, Brusly High, and Istrouma High. He taught a full course load while also coaching numerous sports. He worked as an assistant coach on staffs with Louisiana football coaching legends, including Dale Weiner (at CHSPC) and Leon McGraw (at Istrouma). He earned a Masters in Education from Louisiana State University in 1981. In 1983, Fred began working at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, where he would spend the bulk of his teaching career. He ran the school's groundbreaking TV & film production program for over three decades, taught classes in AP English, Public Speaking, and Journalism, and was the faculty sponsor for the school newspaper, Campus Currents. He also coached the school's quiz bowl, tennis, and debate teams, among many other contributions to BRHS extra-curricular activities. Fred was a proud member of the Deadly Delta (K)nights intramural basketball team in the late 1990s, playing alongside his son, Bradley, and many of his closest friends on the BRHS faculty. He even appeared as a cast member in BRHS student productions, including "Stage Door." He was honored as the East Baton Rouge Parish high school Teacher of the Year in 1999-2000. Fred was an amateur guitarist and prolific songwriter, frequently collaborating with Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Chuck Cowan. They co-wrote songs that appeared on multiple Cowan albums, including "Phonograph Record" and "Pick Your Pleasure." Their joint composition "When Images Collide" was featured in the campy, 1972 cult-classic horror film, Blood Sabbath. Fred also co-produced the 1974 Tim Hudson LP "The High Road Home" during his time in Purvis. Fred was active in community theater in his younger years. His roles included King Herod (in an Emporia production of "Jesus Christ Superstar") and Marachzek (in "She Loves Me" in Hattiesburg, MS). Fred was a devoted parishioner of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, where he served on the vestry and played an integral role in the installation of the church's organ. He enjoyed playing tennis and enjoyed the friendships he made through tennis even more. He also covered high school sports for The Advocate as a contributing writer for many years. Fred was preceded in death by his parents Dale and Pauline (Ferguson) Aldrich and two brothers, Vernon and Dr. Charles Aldrich. He is survived by his wife Deborah, his son Bradley, his daughter and son-in-law Lacey and Daniel Hatfield, his grandchildren Maverick, Steel, Ace, and Journey (all of whom dearly loved their "Papa Fred"), his brothers John and Larry, sisters-in-law Kris and Patty, nieces Susan Aldrich Westcott, Ashley Jantz, Arleigh McCormick, Tiffany Draper, and Stacy Shirley, nephews Heath Knolla, Derrik Shirley, and Steve Shirley, and stepson Jed Dutton (fiancé Hannah). He is also survived by numerous grandnieces, grandnephews, and cousins. Fred's family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Bruce and Kim Stonaker (and Toby) of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, for their constant and unconditional support, care, and hospitality. A private graveside service will be held in Smith County, Kansas. A memorial service in Baton Rouge will be scheduled at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Baton Rouge High School Foundation.
Published in The Advocate from Dec. 4 to Dec. 5, 2020.