Fred Liljegren (d. 2013)

 

Fred Liljegren, on the left with white beard

 

 

Early Thursday morning, 22 August 2013, our longtime neighbor and friend Fred Liljegren passed away.  He had been diagnosed several years ago with inoperable cancer, but it was slow-growing and we hoped for long association with him.  For quite a long time, he seemed to be fine and looked entirely healthy.  Especially over the past year, though, he experienced several crises that caused him severe, intense pain.  Finally, after his most recent setback, he passed on.  Many of us in the neighborhood are still somewhat in shock.  We thought that he would bounce back, as he had before.

 

I’ve found only one photograph of Fred on the Internet — he wasn’t flashy, and he certainly never sought the spotlight — but it illustrates well a life of quiet achievement and service.  In that photo, above, taken at a “Partners in Conservation” award ceremony in 2009, Fred stands to the viewer’s left, with his characteristic beard.  (Through all the years I’ve known him, it was only when my wife and son and I visited him a week ago Sunday that I had ever seen him without the beard.)

 

Fred worked for the federal Bureau of Reclamation.  Next to him in the photograph is Bill McDonald, then the Bureau’s acting Commissioner.  Beside him stands Deanna Archuleta, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.  Holding the award certificate is Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of the Interior and former Senator from Colorado.  Also holding the award is Mark Forbes, of the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation.  On the far right of the photo are Vernon Lovejoy, of the Bureau of Reclamation, and Fred’s son, Jonathan Liljegren.

 

People in our neighborhood might, perhaps, have been aware of Fred’s professional achievements.  Or, more likely, they weren’t.  He never boasted or called attention to himself.  But they knew and respected him as an unusually fine neighbor, a man who was always willing to help widows and the elderly, and as a devoted Scouter.  He was famous, indeed almost legendary, for his help with the Cub Scouts’ annual pinewood derby.  He was beloved by many parents for the interest that he continued to take in their sons long after those sons had left the Scouting program behind.  He kept in touch with them, followed their achievements, took satisfaction in seeing what they were up to.  He took his boys out to lunch if they were in town, visited them if he happened to travel to where they were living, offered career and personal advice, and demonstrated in abundance that his interest in them was genuine, that it was far more to him than merely carrying out an assignment from the Church.

 

A kind, gentle, and good-humored man, Fred enjoyed socializing with neighbors and with those he cherished.  He was — I can testify to this from long personal experience — an unfailingly loyal and supportive friend.  He and his wife, Linda, were actively involved with our little neighborhood dinner-and-a-play group, which regularly attends the Hale Center Theater in Orem after first enjoying a restaurant meal together.  (This is something that I myself prize.  With the busy lives of many in our neighborhood, having time just to enjoy each other over a good dinner is priceless.)

 

Linda and Fred had bought a condo down in St. George a couple of years back, something that he loved (and I envied), and he was looking forward to retirement and to spending time down there, bicycling amidst the beautiful red-rock scenery of the area.  And our neighborhood still had plans of going to Alaska with him; it was a place that he had wanted to see.  Now, he won’t have that restful retirement that he so much deserved.  He won’t be going with us on that cruise to Alaska.  But we’re confident, despite our sense of shock and loss, that — freed from sometimes excruciating pain — he’s enjoying even greater beauty, even richer society, and even more peaceful rest than we, or this world, could ever have provided, and we rejoice for him.  I’m confident that he’ll continue to watch over his Scouts and his family and to support his friends, just as he did here.

 

I appreciated Fred Liljegren more than I ever expressed.  Perhaps this inadequate public tribute will compensate for that, at least in small part.  I still find it difficult to believe that he’s really gone.

 

  1. Each life that touches ours for good
    Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
    Thou sendest blessings from above
    Thru words and deeds of those who love.
  2. What greater gift dost thou bestow,
    What greater goodness can we know
    Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
    Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
  3. When such a friend from us departs,
    We hold forever in our hearts
    A sweet and hallowed memory,
    Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.
  4. For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
    Devotion to the Savior’s name,
    Who bless our days with peace and love,
    We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.
    Posted from Park City, Utah

  • MWF

    الله يرحمه

  • Joseph Grenny

    Thank you for expressing that for all of us, Dan. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the influence of this great man in my life.

    I have three sons. When each made a milestone in scouting, Fred created a personalized memorial for them – a plaque portraying scouting awards, a trophy on which to mount a pinewood derby car, or a special neckerchief slide. While I would sit in my house watching snow come down Fred was first on the scene to ensure no widow or single mother in the neighborhood was inconvenienced for even a moment. Usually his kindness was offered in the dark of morning or evening. I will miss his guileless tenor voice that always has a cheerful note in it. He exemplifies perfect integrity when he accepts an assignment or makes a commitment.

    As I write this a tingling stir inside me brought me to realize who Fred is. Fred is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent (I intentionally skipped “thrifty” because I can’t attest to it personally). If Baden Powell intended to offer a path to moral perfection in articulating those virtues, he would find its perfect achievement in Fred Liljegren. I love you Fred. I miss you. And I am eternally grateful for your life.

  • Richard Rawson

    News travels slowly at times. Not until I Googled Fred’s name tonight did I learn of his passing though your blog. He has been well described through his lifetime of service. A true friend. I will never forget my first experience meeting Fred. I was trying to unload two yards of wet cement for a backyard patio. It was in a self haul trailer and was setting up. I was in a state of total exhaustion when a voice coming over my shoulder asked if he could help. There Fred stood already with shovel in hand. That was 1979. I would later work with him at the Interior Department. He helped me get through tough times when the politicians made it unbearable. I love you Fred, and will always remember your private thoughts and support.
    Richard Rawson


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X