Frederick W., Jr. Woerner

1937 - 2001

Fred was born in Los Angeles on March 6, 1937, and died (just two days before his 64th birthday) of an insidious melanoma, which progressed over the past year and a half. His parents, Agnes Marie (Olsson) and Fred, Sr., were very loving, upstanding, and proper. “Bill” (as he was called in his younger years), however, took after his father, who was a former Yellowstone ranger. He was an outdoors kid. Throughout his life, his love of nature and plants continued, which included a minor in Botany. His last outing was to botanical gardens, and his final task was planting tulips at the convalescent center — which are now sprouting!

Fred’s parents were pillars of Bethel Lutheran Church, and Fred followed, albeit somewhat reluctantly. He was christened, confirmed, and married here. However, he was more attuned to philosophical and psychological searching. He found some answers in existentialism, and called himself an agnostic, but was always quick to say, “There’s probably a God.”

Fred attended Crescent Heights Elementary and Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. At his parents’ urging, he attended Augustana Lutheran College. He later transferred to the University of Southern California, where he was a leader in Acacia Fraternity. He earned a B.A. in Geography, becoming a second generation Trojan. In 1961, he married Emily Peters, and she joined him in attending U.S.C. They lived in the married student housing facility until their daughter, Lorelei Elise, was born in 1963. College years were during the civil rights movement, and he participated in marches, coffeehouses, avant-garde cinema and plays, including the Liquid Theatre presentation at Bethel. In 1965, their son, Craig William, was born.

His career choice of teaching did not meet his expectations. After a period of struggle and entrepreneurship (including the famous toothbrush vending machines), he began his career as a Los Angeles County Probation Officer. He worked for the County for 32 years, less a few years in the middle to pursue a master’s degree at U.S.C., a license in marriage and family counseling, and a private practice. As a probation officer, he handled such special caseloads as sexual offenders and domestic violence. He was a longtime board member of the Southeast Area Counseling Center. Fred was incredibly committed to his work and refused to retire, returning to work between chemotherapy treatments.

Fred’s marriage to Emily dissolved in the early 1970s, and eventually became amiable. This allowed for blended holidays and vacations with Fred’s subsequent relationships and Frank, Emily’s mate. Fred remarried in 1985, with several years of pleasurable times. After this second marriage ended, he was fortunate to share his love for art, music, and nature, with family, friends, and significant relationships.

His Bohemian character led to a love for traveling, mostly to Mexico and Europe. He could name most any foliage or flower you pointed out, which led to wonderful experiences while his children and grandchildren hiked with him. Fred took much pleasure in the theatre, ballet, opera, and early music. He loved most everything about the ocean, including fishing, swimming, and sailing. He often used his father’s old Canon F-1 to photograph the plants, people, and places he saw.

Fred was sensitive, intelligent, and witty — with his own set of human foibles. And most everyone speaks of him as the kind and interesting gentleman he was. He was good at really listening to others, and providing support and encouragement as needed.

Fred was loved and admired by many, and leaves us all with many wonderful memories.


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