John Fredlund was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.
He was born on Jan. 16, 1953, in Williston, North Dakota, to Josephine and Vernon Fredlund. The youngest of three, he had two older sisters. He spent his early years playing with a wonderful gaggle of neighborhood boys, all of whom were life-long friends. He loved and played baseball (a catcher), as well as other sports throughout his school days.
From Williston, John moved with his family to Tyler, Texas, then to Anchorage, Alaska, and finally to Billings, where he graduated from Senior High School in 1971. He maintained contact with so many of his friends from childhood, college, as well as friends he met throughout life. His ability to connect with people was legendary.
John attended the University of Montana and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in journalism. After college he found his way, traveling the country. He worked as a logger in Alaska, a carpenter in Washington state, and wrote for a Seattle newspaper. He loved the hardscrabble work of building and being outside and was a gifted writer. He moved back to Billings and began learning the oil business, mentored by his father Vernon.
He met his wife Bess in Billings, in the freezing winter of 1980. Returning from a pheasant hunt, John stopped at the house of some friends to offer the bird for supper. Bess, who happened to be visiting from Los Angeles, answered the door. "I don't know how to cook any of that stuff," she said, "But I'll go out to dinner with you." They did and fell in love. They were married shortly after in California, a famous wedding that remains one of the family's fondest memories. Their marriage of 41 years was filled with love, warmth, family, friends, and happiness (and an occasional growl). Two kids, Beau and Paige, made John a proud father.
John involved himself in his children's lives as a thoughtful and dedicated coach. In winter, even when his business was at a crawl, he made sure the family was equipped to ski, and drove them weekly up to Red Lodge, where the family skied and nurtured a deep appreciation for the Beartooth mountains-especially his son, Beau. Beyond his work as a petroleum landman, he kept many hobbies dear to him. Sports (baseball, football, and basketball), music (jazz, in particular), movies (especially old classics), walking, reading the newspaper (WSJ), reading books (history, biography, essays, and anything by Tom Wolfe) and supporting the arts (alongside his wife.) He was a marvelous cook, and we will miss his steaks, spaghetti, black-eyed peas, beef stew and infamous gravy. His passions made his life full, rich, and intellectually diverse. He was proud of our country and was a man of devoted faith.
In 2016, John was diagnosed with stage 4 salivary gland cancer. He had survived a previous bout of aggressive throat cancer treatment and took on the new diagnosis with fortitude and hope. In the five years since, he kept living, kept adding to the encyclopedic knowledge of his passions, kept nurturing a love for his family, and joyfully welcomed three grandchildren to his arms. He held steady for as long as he could, and when it overwhelmed him, he went courageously. He died at home in the early hours of Jan. 2, 2022, surrounded by his family, supported in spirit by all his friends.
John was preceded in death by his father Vernon Fredlund, his mother Josephine Chesarek Fredlund, and his sister Edwina Fredlund Traverso. He is survived by his wife Bess Snyder Fredlund, his son Beau Fredlund (Emily Kipp), his daughter Paige Hunter (Zach), his grandchildren Josephine, Moses, and Rosemary Hunter, his sister Mitzi Vorachek (Jim), and his nieces Laura Vorachek and Joanna Austin and family.
John was a beloved human being. He leaves a legacy of love for us all.
A celebration of John's life will be held in June. In lieu of gifts, please strike up your favorite music and raise a glass.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Ingvald Fredlund, please visit our floral store.