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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The End of the Narrative, but not the End of the Story

Con Frieze doing his "Golden Voice" selling 727s to CEOs, presidents and royalty

By 1979 I could see that I was going no farther in the Marketing Department than manager of the Cargo Development Group.  Both the 747 freighter, and the 747 Combi were well-entrenched in airline service and I felt that my job with that program was done.  I had then been with Boeing for thirty years and was presented with my gold watch.
Con 1970

                                        I shopped around and Dean Thornton, a Boeing vice-resident who was in charge of the new 767 Sales Support.  I accepted that I was back in Engineering at the Everett plant where the 767 would be built alongside the 747.
                                        My days of world travel were over for two reasons.  I was a bit “burned out” and no longer seemed to have the presence and “golden voice” that I once had.  (I believe that I may have been somewhat lacking in enthusiasm.)  More importantly, my eyes failed me.  I had been correcting keratoconus with hard contact lenses for more than twenty years but the time came that I could could not pass the eye test to renew my driver’s license.  It was time to go under the knife for corneal transplants.
Following one of Con's many eye surgeries

                                        I found a top eye surgeon, Jack Chandler, in Seattle and came to discover that over the years, eye surgery had progressed immensely.  Even so, the next few years saw a succession of eye operations—seven in all.  The first corneal transplants in each eye in turn rejected and had to be done over.  Then O developed cataracts that had to be removed from each eye.  After that there was a detached retina in my left eye that had to be put back by a combination of surgery and laser beam.
[In fact, by his passing in 2002 my father was virtually blind and had been for some time.  As his health declined because of emphysema, his eyesight declined as well.  The man who had helped his brother shoot down a Zero on December 7th and then traveled the world for Boeing gradually had his world shrink.]
Phyllis and Con in Sandy Point

                                        Although Phyllis and I had started literally from scratch in 1972 and I knew that my pension woul not be large, I was ready to retire.  It was no longer a joy to go to work in the morning and suffer the 45-minute commute from Braeburn to Everett.  My group provided the sales brochures and materials for the 767; however, I did not particularly enjoy the ‘behind the scenes” role I played in marketing the new airplane.  I had promised Dean Thornton that I would see the 767 to certification and I did just that.  The day after the airplane was certified I put my resignation on my boss’ desk.
Con explaining the 727 to King Hussein of Jordan

                                        Along the way, in 1977 I believe, we had purchased a small condominium on Sandy Point, north of Bellingham in Whatcom County.  It is nine miles from the nearest small town, Ferndale, and has a private dock on a marina canal opening onto the Strait of Georgia.  The local fishing is so-so, but the crabbing is great.  We used it as a summer retreat until I retired.
Con at Sandy Point in retirement

                                        There was no way we cold support both the Braeburn house and our condo at Sandy Point on my retirement income so we had a choice between the little golf course and the dock at Sandy Point.  It was not a difficult decision because, even though my eyesight is perfectly adequate for normal purposes, I have not enjoyed golf particularly since my eyesight went to pot.  We sold the Braeburn house, paid off the mortgage at Sandy Point and moved here in 1982.
Con with his family, parents Ernest and Eva Frieze, Sandra Frieze Hard, Con, Rex Frieze, Dick Frieze

                                        We live on a small scale but we are perfectly happy.  We had a small power boat and we bought a small travel trailer—one of the smallest in the world, a ten-foot “Burro”.  It is a tiny accommodation but Phyllis, bless her heart, professes to like her “doll house keeping” and we have pulled it more than one hundred thousand miles all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico as far south as Puerta Vallarta and Guadalajara.  Two years ago we lived on the road in the Burro for four months while we toured the U.S. east coast all the way form Nova Scotia to Key West.
With Dick & Mary and Glover in front of the Burro

                                        One advantage that we have at Sandy Point is that another “Fukawe chief”, Clare Adriance and his lovely wife Shirley, retired to a home a few hundred yards down the canal from our condo.  They are “family” to us—a brother and a sister, sharing our years of retirement.  They, too, have an RV trailer and we share miles on the road traveling together.
Three generations singing around the organ, 1984

                                        With escalating prices against our small fixed retirement income, we may never achieve the world travel that Phyllis longs for, but we are, indeed, supremely happy.  Not once since that March 3rd evening in 1971 when Phyllis walked through Stephanie K’s door have I been attracted by another woman.  (I should explain that “Stephanie K”.  Not only do I have a daughter Stephanie, one of Phyllis’ daughters is Stephanie Ann and one our daughter-in-law is Stephanie Laura.  We use the middle initial so we know which Stephanie it is to whom we refer!)
Frieze Family at the time of Eva's death 1985

                                        Between us we now have nine children and eighteen grandchildren, all doing quite nicely on their own.  It is my hope that some of them one day may be interested in reading these stories of an old Ozark country boy, their “Papa Con”.  It is not “the story of my life” because hopefully, there are many adventures yet to come in these our golden sunset years.
[This is not the end of my father’s stories, but it is the end of his narrative of his life.  One thing he did not mention was that in 1967 he began painting and painted as long as he could see.  Most of them grace the walls of my Tacoma and Ilwaco homes.  In the late 1990s my husband and two of my children spent my birthday in Phoenix, AZ with my dad and Phyllis at Stephanie Ann’s vacation condo.  There they told me that he had been diagnosed with emphysema and given two years to live.  Because he had always been able to fix things, cars, toys, boats, etc. some part of me thought that he would find a way out of this death sentence.  He didn’t.  It didn’t help that he didn’t stop smoking until about six months before his death.  By that time, they had moved from remote Sandy Point to a condo owned by Stephanie Ann in Edmonds.  There they spent several happy years, but his heath and eyesight continued to deteriorate.  On June 22, just days after my youngest’ high school graduation, my father drew his last difficult breath before I could arrive.  I had lost my hero.  My son Frank and I took part of his ashes back Bona, per his request, back to where he began.  With my Uncle Dick and my cousin Janice we sprinkled them in the lot where his grandparents’ house and store had stood.  Because none of the immediate Frieze clan lives in Dade County any longer, now it is my desire to have what is left of his ashes interned at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, Washington.]