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In Memory of

FREDERICK ASHTON RABORG, JR.

April 10, 1934 - August 13, 2001



 
 
 
 

FRED was born on April 10, 1934, in Richmond,Virginia.  Because his father was in construction, he attended thirteen schools, nevertheless graduating as salutatorian at age 15 from Woodrow
Wilson High in Portsmouth, Virginia.  He took his BA degree in English at California State University, Bakersfield,  class of 1973, after getting his AA from Bakersfield College. He completed a fifth year for his teaching credential but returned to writing instead.

He served as battalion sergeant major with the 8th Field Artillery
Battalion in Korea and Hawaii.  He was purported to have been, at age 19, the youngest sergeant major in the Army's history. He helped to write the battalion history when the unit returned to Hawaii from Korean service as part of the 25th Infantry Division, whose home was Scofield Barracks on Oahu. He received the Citizens Committee for the Armed Forces Medal for Leadership, having graduated first in his Leadership training. In Korea, he
received a Certificate of Commendation from Major General Leslie D. Carter.

The acting and writing bugs bit him early. He usually had starring roles in all school plays, and he sang with the Joe Brown Radio Kiddie Gang on WRVA in Richmond throughout the Forties.  He shared bills with such stars of the day as Sunshine Sue, The Rocky Mountain Boys and The Carter Family. He also sang for the wounded veterans at McGuires Veterans Hospital.  He sang on WSAP radio (Portsmouth), WTAR-TV (Norfolk) and at the Maryland Theatre in Cumberland, Maryland. He lied about his age to get a gig at The Gaiety Theatre in Norfolk —the only burlesque house in the state of Virginia—during the runs of Rose La Rose and Lili St. Cyr.  He performed as Alf Nadler in Come Down to Carrolton County with the Virginia Museum Theatre in Richmond, and locally with the Bakersfield Community Theatre's Summer Mummers at the old Harvest Hall in a production of ³East Lynne².  He had the role of Stephen Hopkins in 1776 for North Bakersfield. The Bakersfield Community Theatre Guild produced two of his plays:  The Other Side of the Island and Making It!  He was a frequent judge for the Kern County One-Act Drama Festival and for the Shakespeare Festival. His passion for excellent stagework and musicals continued to the end.

Fred as actor

He wrote his first journalism at age 12 for his weekly column, The Bowers Hill News, in The Portsmouth Star. In the service, he would create and write for The 8th FA Bn Bulletin, portions of which would be picked up by The Stars and Stripes. He would go on to write special articles and op-ed pieces for such newspapers as The Oregonian, Los Angeles Herald Examiner and The Portland Chronicle. Locally he served as editor for The Kern County
Medical Society Bulletin, as liaison editor for The Oildale News and as columnist for The Bakersfield News Bulletin. He was the book and drama reviewer for The Bakersfield Californian from 1970-l978. He was one of the original weekly contributors to the Saturday At Large section. His thousands of poems, articles and short stories appeared in such magazines as Editor & Publisher (a special piece about Judy Clausen as woman¹s editor of The Californian), Sports Afield,  Westways, Our Navy, Ladies' Home Journal, Cuisine, all of the men's magazines of the day and scores of literary journals such as Prairie Schooner,  The Pacific Review, The Portland Review and Tendril. 

In October 1982, he and his wife, Eileen, were presented to Queen Beatrix at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as part of the USA/The Netherlands 200 Anniversary Celebration, and feted by the mayor of Leeuwarden and the prime minister of The Netherlands to gourmet dining aboard a canal boat while touring the beautifully lighted bridges and canals, and in some of Amsterdam¹s finest restaurants as well as country inns of note. Later they would be entertained by Holland's top performers at the RAI Center.

In 1983, he and his wife started AMELIA Magazine, Cicada, and SPSM&H (Shakespeare, Petrarch, Sidney, Milton & Hopkins).  AMELIA has been recognized as one of the top literary publications in the nation and always has been listed as one of the best fiction markets. He has published some of the top writers of the day and has discovered many new talents. Among local talents he published  frequently were William Rintoul and Nancy
Edwards. He received an Arts Award (Literature) from the Bakersfield Art Association and was nominated for a Beautiful Bakersfield Award.

He was a frequent speaker and instructor at writers' conferences, such as the Oklahoma Writers' Conference, The Southwest Conference in Albuquerque, several times at the WIN-WIN Writers' Conference sponsored by Publishers Weekly and Quill Press in Fresno. He also was on the faculty of the conference sponsored by the local WINK group at Bakersfield College.  He had the distinction of being the only keynote speaker to moon his Fresno audience. When he finished his speech, a combination of silk shirt and heavy Pegasus belt buckle caused his pants to drop. He bent to retrieve same, and...voila!

He was preceded in death by his first-born son, Freddy III, and by his sister, Mary Elizabeth Rowe. He is survived by his wonderful, lovely wife, Eileen, five children:  Donald Wayne, Marni and Donald Pryor, Wayne Patrick, Jayne and Dusty Lane, Kevin and Lori Raborg and daughter-in-law Janice Raborg, nine grand- children and three great-grandchildren, his sister, Pat Stoots, as well as many loving neices, nephews and cousins, three devoted dogs —Puzzles, Sammy and Shortie —and  birds, both domestic and wild.
 
 

                           Simon’s Graceland notes –
                           the black swan’s silhouette glides
                           against the sunset

 
                           in the frigid wind
                           a single longhorn steer –
                           emptiness is white

                           –Frederick A Raborg, Jr
 
 

Eileen and Fred Raborg

 


 

Deepest thanks to Fred's beloved wife, Eileen, for sharing this obituary that was written by Fred about 3 months before he died. Warmest thanks also to the Raborg family for photographs.

Photographs and haiku were added to the above by the editor for this presentation.

"Simon's Graceland notes"– Brussels Sprout, Vol V:2, 1988
"in the frigid wind" – Frogpond, VIII:1, 1985

 Tributes in Memory of Fred Raborg

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