Fred William Donaldson
Fred William Donaldson, 80, of Ocala, FL, passed away suddenly May 31, 2022, while aboard the MSC Divina at Ocean Cay, Bahamas.
Fred was born in Philadelphia, PA, on October 5, 1941, to Frederick William Donaldson and Marie Helmuth. He lived his entire life in the Philadelphia suburban area until moving with his wife Linda to Oak Run Country Club’s Eagles Point neighborhood in Ocala, FL in October 2021.
Fred joined and attended meetings there of the Friends of the Library Club, Genealogy Club, the Republican Club and the Veteran’s and Patriots Club.
Fred attended Philadelphia public schools for his elementary years, Beth Jacob Hebrew School for junior high school, followed by a year at Yeshiva in Baltimore, returning to attend Central High School in Philadelphia. Fred was awarded a Baccalaureate degree from the University of Pennsylvania upon graduation from Central in 1959 at age 17.
Hired as a copy boy right out of high school for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Fred was mentored by their legendary newsroom editors, Charles Johnson and William Boyd Dickinson – men who fought under Patton and MacArthur respectively and led men into battle. Charlie nicknamed Fred “Fearless,” and the name stuck.
Within a year of his hire, Fred became head copy boy in charge of dozens of mostly older young men. Gradually he was given TV and amusements assignments. He wrote a column called Ethical Questions, answering reader letters. He wrote musical reviews, then longer feature pieces on local government and civic organizations.
After getting his first over-the-masthead byline, Fred was offered a coveted spot on the newsroom’s rewrite desk. Headset on, he typed up stories as correspondents called in news from the Philadelphia and New Jersey suburbs. When a part-time job as editor of the suburban weekly The Roxborough Review came along, he worked a full shift at the Bulletin for a year and moonlighted at the Review.
Fred was then offered a full-time job by Intercounty News Group as an editor and ad salesman. As the communities of King of Prussia and Conshohocken grew, he began weekly publications in the suburbs as part of the Intercounty chain of newspapers. Fred became known around Philly as “The Dean of Weekly Newspapers.”
Fred was a man of many talents. He not only wrote news stories, feature stories and editorials, but in the 1970’s he wrote a weekly car column. He also sold display advertising, edited copy, and laid out the newspapers every week.
Fred began his over 33-year tenure at Intercounty as ad director in 1969, then became Administrative VP in 1972, publisher of Intercounty Publishing in 1975, Senior VP of 28 newspapers in 1982, and President and CEO in 1993. Fred served as a director on the board of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association.
When Intercounty came under new ownership by Journal Register Corporation [JRC], Fred stayed on for two years, then sought another smaller newspaper chain The News Gleaner and flourished there, improving sales.
Ultimately the News Gleaner chain was bought by JRC, and, contrary to most mergers, he was retained and asked to helm a daily newspaper, The Phoenix, for his last two years before retirement. There he put his computer skills to work building their website traffic to rival papers with 10 times the circulation.
Fred and Linda joined Beth Tikvah-B’nai Jeshurun synagogue in Erdenheim, PA in 1973, the year of their marriage. Fred served on several committees, the board of directors and was elected as the congregation’s President for two terms 1983-1985 and 1987-1988.
Fred served on the board of the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism [USCJ] of the Delaware Valley Region as Treasurer, Secretary and Executive Vice President, as well as on the USCJ’s National Advisory Board in New York.
Back in the 1980’s Fred had bought a TRS-80 and began programming long before the digital revolution transformed communication, typesetting, layout and printing.
In his retirement, Fred built an online website SocialSecurity.org, carving a path for the unenlightened with substantiated facts. Then he followed with his full-throated foray into a weekly blog “You can fool nearly all the people…”. Each week he practiced investigative journalism on government corruption, political chicanery, and moral decay.
Fred turned a bright light on behind-the-scenes deals, exposed the lies perpetrated by distorted facts, and always with a wise and darkly humorous twist in his headlines, his chosen images and his tidy skewering of whatever hapless victims had been uncovered. An archive of years of weekly blogs can be found at freddonaldson.com.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, Frederick William Donaldson and Marie Helmuth Donaldson, and his sister Rose Mays.
He is survived by his wife Linda Donaldson, and four children: Adam (Kenette) Donaldson, Noah (Laura) Donaldson, Jane Donaldson, and Benjamin (Jenny Arch) Donaldson.
His grandchildren are Matt (Jamie) Donaldson, Holly (Joseph) Leer, Zachary Engeloff, Carmen Leach, Ian Donaldson, and Lyra Arch Donaldson. His great grandchildren are Logan Reeber, Lucian Leer and Apollo Leer.
Fred is survived by his sister-in-law Jane (Corey) Cleary, his nieces Susan (Edward) Mays and Michelle (Robert) Vincent, and his nephew Joseph (Janet) Mays, Jr.
A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, July 17, 2022, at 2pm at the Baldwin Brothers Funeral & Cremation Society at 11250 SW 93rd Court Road, Ocala, FL 34481.