1938 - 2021
“Fred G. Rea, 83, of Columbus, passed away Wednesday, July 7, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Dover, Ohio on May 6, 1938 to Richard and Kathryn (Gehret) Rea. After graduating from Cornell University with his Master's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1962, he was commissioned as a Naval Officer, who served honorably as an instructor at the United States Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, training Junior Officers in Electronics. He later worked at Battelle Memorial Institute as a research engineer from 1966 to 1995. Fred will be remembered by friends and family for his wit, charm, and outgoing personality. He had a very curious mind and loved to talk - he never met a stranger he couldn't enjoy a conversation with. Throughout his life, Fred had a love of both model trains and with the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad. He also was known for occasionally enjoying a nice glass of scotch. In addition to his parents, Fred is preceded in death by his first wife Sharon. He is survived by his wife, Mizumi; sons, Garrett (Katie), Steve (Holly), Richard; daughter, Christina (Jonathan); and eight grandchildren. Visitation will be held Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at SCHOEDINGER NORTHEAST FUNERAL HOME, 1051 E. Johnstown Rd., Gahanna, from 4-7pm. A graveside service will take place Thursday, July 15, at Dover Burial Park, 5651 N Wooster Ave, Dover, OH 44622, at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution in Fred's name to the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad.
Published by The Columbus Dispatch from Jul. 11 to Jul. 12, 2021.
Some Division Member’s Comments
I’ll remember Fred as someone who was always laughing. And one of the few people I was taller than!
In his memory, here’s a video of his model railroad. He did all of the recording, I edited it down and posted it to our YouTube channel about four years ago. He was a good modeler and will be missed.
Matt Goodman, 8 July
So sad to hear - I just watched the video of his layout. Not sure if I ever met or spoke with him but he sounds like a nice person and would have liked to see his layout in person.
Andrea McIntosh, 8 July
Matt, a fitting tribute to a fine model railroader.
Dexter Hill, 8 July
Fred was likely the second NMRA member I met when moving here and he was a regular part of the Tuesday Night Operations group. Some of his engineering consulting work contributed to my layout (I still remember Scott Williamson sitting back and laughing as three engineers - Fred, Bill Hanna, and me - over-engineered the hanging, cantilevered benchwork in the crawl space of my basement).
And yes Matt, he always had a tale to tell (including meeting Werner Van Baun when working a space related project for Battelle), and a good laugh. As to being taller? Not sure on that one.
He will be missed
Mike Wolf, 9 July
And don't forget that Fred told Admiral Rickover that he didn't want to work for him and that he visited John Allen's layout when he was in the Navy.
He had a lot of good stories.
Jim Kehn, 9 July
I knew he was an engineer and a Navy guy (and I think I’d heard the John Allen story), but the Werner Von Braun story is a new one. I’m sure Werner had trouble getting away from that button-holing!
Matt Goodman, 9 July
Fred was a great man and modeler. He was always will to help with any idea that someone came up with. He will truly be missed by those that knew him. If you did not know him it is your lost.
Darrell Logan, 10 July
I’d like to hear more of the Rickover story. I know little about him, other than he was the “father of the nuclear navy”. Wikipedia suggests he was a hard man to work for, and exercised a lot of control over promotions within the nuclear navy.
Matt Goodman, 11 July
He [Admiral Rickover] was the father of the nuclear Navy and was a very demanding person to work for or with. On the good side he insisted that contractors build a superior product, unlike the rival Soviets. On the downside he alienated a lot of Navy people and destroyed the career of some very fine officers because they challenged him or didn't rise to his expectations. He got too big for his britches, and early in Reagan's term when he tried to push Reagan around, he found out who the boss really was.
If I recall, Fred told me that Rickover wanted him to work in his part of the Navy and when Fred refused he threatened to send him to some obscure base somewhere. Fred said he didn't care as he was not making the Navy a career.
Jim Kehn, 11 July
Fred G. Rea, 1938 – 2021
Fred, a model railroader and railfan in Columbus, as well as a life member of the NMRA and Division 6, passed away on July 7 after a long battle with several illnesses.
Fred had a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and taught electronics as a Naval officer at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
One of his highlights while serving there was as a regular operator on John Allen’s famous G&D railroad. He joined Battelle in Columbus in 1966 and soon found the railroad club there. He was instrumental in setting up a card order operating scheme, adding a dozen hidden storage tracks, and generally adding track wherever possible. Fred never saw an open space on a model railroad that he thought couldn’t be improved by more track. A member of the PRRH&TS, he modeled the Panhandle route near Dennison, close by his boyhood home in Dover. His freelanced Pittsburgh, Muskingum and Hocking Railroad connected with the PRR at Dennison and provided local trains for his crews, while the PRR ran a sequence of trains, almost automatically. He had two trains with TV cameras in the locos and a pair of remote cabs with throttles and a TV monitor. You ran the train as though you were actually in the loco cab.
More than building his railroad, or running trains, Fred loved to talk with friends -- or anyone! He enjoyed volunteering on the scenic Zanesville and Western RR, and, of course talking, with the visitors. He was an interested advisor to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), trying to keep them on track, railroad wise. Fred was preceded in death by his first wife, Sharon and is survived by wife Mizumi and sons Steve and Garrett.
Bill Hanna, 20 July