Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two Roads Diverged For Bud Fredericks

Twenty years into his career, on a fast track toward becoming a Marine Corps general, Bud Fredericks resigned his commission. He was in his early 40s and had no immediate prospects for employment. Why did he do it?

Bud's military career was very gratifying, but the birth of his fifth child, Tim, forced him to choose between the Marines and a whole new direction that would provide more direct support for his family.

Bud graduated from a highly competitive Jesuit run high school in 1944. The military offered support for college, followed by Officer Candidate School.

Bud's military career flourished. By the mid 1950s he was a major and a strong candidate for further promotion. The Marines sent Bud to Stanford University to study history as a part of his preparation. He completed the requirements for a doctorate in history, lacking only a completed thesis.

Bud's marriage to Dot also prospered. She adapted well to life as an officer's wife. She also coped with Bud's long absences as they raised four children. In the 1960s Bud commanded one of the few military units that had trained to fight guerrilla warfare. His unit was ordered to Vietnam in 1964.

When he returned from Vietnam, Bud was posted to the ROTC at Oregon State University. He was able to transfer his credits from his studies at Stanford to a graduate program at the University of Oregon.

Bud and Dot's fifth child, Tim, was born in 1966. Tim has Down syndrome.

Bud reminisced, "We were fortunate to have a doctor who told us to take Tim home and love him". Forty years ago, children with Down syndrome were usually placed in institutions.

Bud and Dot supplied love, but did not know how to foster Tim's early development. Books at the UO library were oriented toward institutions. “They were sad books. There was nothing in them to help us.” said Bud.

In 1967, Bud was about to be reassigned to Vietnam. Dot dreaded his absence. Their teenage children were opposed to the war.

The decision to resign was not an easy one. Bud cherished his time in the Marines. He loved the camaraderie. He excelled as a Marine Officer and had an opportunity to grow. However, Bud could see that his family needed him.

He never told them how much it hurt him to leave the Marines.

Bud changed his focus to special education at UO. He also sought a paying position. A chance conversation led to a job at Teaching Research, an arm of the Oregon higher education system.
While working on his thesis, Bud met Vic Baldwin at Fairview Hospital. Vic admired Bud's research and helped him procured a $40,000 federal grant.

While pursuing his second career, Bud worked with Tim to help him reach his full potential. Bud and Tim actually travelled on a lecture circuit where Tim delivered a speech about what it is like to have Down Syndrome. See page 2 of this newsletter for the full text. Tim joined the Boy Scouts. He attained Eagle Scout status.

The federal government began to see a need to mandate special education opportunities for children. Bud and Vic gained support in Oregon and at the federal level. Decades passed. Bud contributed to special education projects worldwide.

Today, Tim, 42, lives independently, works and is married. Bud's dedication contributed to a richer life for Tim, and for countless others.
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