Frank Fredericka was not yet born when his father died, and sister, Theresa Klamut, and brother, Joe Fredericka, were under the ages of 3, so most of what they know about their father is from family stories and photographs.
Joe Fredericka has done a little searching to pick up tidbits about his father, finding occasional news stories and photos. One of those photos led to a portion of Route 7 in Brookfield being dedicated to their father, James A. Fredericka, an Ohio Highway Patrolman who died eight days after his cruiser slid off a rain-slicked Route 7 and hit a tree.
“When Judge Fredericka was moving into his new office, Joe asked him if he wanted a picture of dad to hang on his wall, especially since he was dad’s namesake,” said Frank Fredericka at the Aug. 17 dedication ceremony on the square in Brookfield Center. “The judge said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Judge James A. Fredericka, a cousin to Frank, Joe and Theresa, is a Trumbull County Probate Court judge.
Frank continues the story: “One day, Sen. (Sean) O’Brien was in his office for a meeting. He noticed dad’s picture on the wall. The senator asked, ‘Who is that and why is he in uniform?’ Jimmy proceeded to tell him about dad and the rest is history.”
O’Brien included language in a House bill to name the roadway in honor of Patrolman Fredericka, and it was enacted into law.
“I’d like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of you who had a part in this special remembrance,” Frank Fredericka said. “Theresa, Joe and I are humbled by your efforts to make this life-long dream of recognizing our father a reality.”
Patrolman Fredericka was from Niles and had served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and as an Army Air Corps medic assigned to a bomber squadron during World War II, Joe Fredericka said. He was a five-year veteran of the patrol when the accident occurred on May 8, 1953.
“He had a great personality, a great wit and a great big grin that made everyone smile when he walked into a room,” Klamut said. “He loved his nieces and nephews as he loved his own children. Family and friends were most proud when he became a highway patrolman, but it could not compare to how proud he was to be a trooper.”
The Fredericka children talked of how their large family – their mom and dad each had 10 siblings – rallied around them and their mother, Dolores, after their father’s death, and how the Ohio Highway Patrol never forget them.
“Losing my father, the way we did, was a tragedy, but what we learned from the tragedy was the healing power of a loving family and strong community,” Klamut said. “The highway patrol was part of that community. I remember and am grateful for the help they shared with me to get me off to my freshman year of college, and, of course, the annual memorials. The patrol was and still is a strong supportive part of our lives, and we’ll always be part of the highway patrol family.”
The patrol holds an annual service to honor those who died while on duty.
“Today’s highway dedication is a poignant reminder of the risk law enforcement officers continually face,” said Col. Richard S. Fambro, superintendent of OHP. “Each day, across our great nation and our great state, thousands of women and men perform their life work, a life dedicated to service above self, without hesitation and knowing the potential dangers. There’s no doubt policing is a noble profession, and Patrolman Fredericka was a noble servant. He faithfully represented the Ohio State Highway Patrol with great pride, dignity and honor. He was the 14th member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol killed in the line of duty, and his name, etched on the black granite wall of our patrol memorial, will forever be in our hearts.”
Joe Fredericka said he was shocked to see his father honored 67 years after his passing, but is proud that he is remembered in this way.
“We still miss him,” he said.