Fred passed away at his home in North Brunswick on Thursday, January 20th at the age of 70. He was three weeks shy of his 71st birthday. His larger-than-life personality was reflected in his peaceful passing. An avid lover of snow and the music of his childhood—'50s through the ‘70s—his last breaths were taken after listening to the Forest Gump soundtrack in its entirety as the gray morning rain changed over to serene, picturesque snow. He passed on the one-year anniversary of his older sister Mary’s passing. She was his last remaining immediate family member. Fred always had a flair for theatrics. He lived boldly and loved wholeheartedly.
Fred was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 12, 1951. At 17, he had his mother enlist him in the United States Army, and served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. His courageous spirit carried him throughout his life until the very end after battling multiple organ failure. In the last week of his life, he turned to his son and said, “My boys are worth the pain”. In 1984, his world changed forever when he met his new world, Cristina Guion, whom he was married to the last 37 years. They wedded in New York City Hall in 1984, and again at Don Bosco Church in Manila, Philippines in 1986.
His Brooklyn no-nonsense verbal wit served him well as Shop Steward for DC-37 Union, where he represented the interests of his fellow New York City Department of Transportation workers for over twenty years. He regaled his family with work stories such as climbing the Brooklyn Bridge to place the US flag for the Fourth of July holiday and clearing the New York City streets and sidewalks after snowstorms. His sense of humor kept cars moving and people laughing on the bridges and highways of Manhattan. While working on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, a tractor trailer accident led to his early retirement. During his retirement, he proudly served as the Commander for the Disabled American Veterans of New Jersey from 2019 - 2020.
Gifting was his love language. A young uncle by his teens, he loved giving gifts and doling money on his nieces and nephews. He also loved gifting to the Atlantic City casinos he frequented and the Universal and Disney theme parks in Florida, where he took his family every summer en route to visiting Floridian relatives. His gifting peaked after marrying his wife from the Philippines. He eagerly anticipated shopping for and packing Balikbayan boxes for all his wife’s relatives before flying back to the Philippines.
After retiring, he went on two memorable European vacations. On his first visit to Ireland, his wife reminded him he did not need to kiss the Blarney stone as he already has the gift of gab. He relished the second trip he took with his wife and eldest son, Sean, as he paid his respect to his fallen comrades at the American Cemetery in Normandy while visiting his youngest son, Timothy who was studying at NYU in Paris. In fall of 2021, his last and most meaningful trip was to Chicago to attend the wedding of Ian, his second son, to his now wife, Katie Hunter.
He is survived by his best friend and beloved wife, Cristina, their three sons, Sean, Ian and his wife Katie, and Timothy. He is also survived and adored by his cousins, his nieces and nephews on his side as their boisterous “Uncle Freddie,” on his wife’s side as their loving “Tito Fred”, beloved extended friends, and his treasured companion, their English Retriever Abbey.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Catherine Smith, his sisters Kathleen, Veronica, Mary Elizabeth, and brother Thomas.
The Smith Family would like to thank the healthcare workers of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – Tower 5 and the DaVita East Brunswick Dialysis Care Team who all labored tirelessly the last weeks of his life to ensure Fred was stable enough to return home for his passing.
Viewing will take place on Sunday, 1/30, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Bronson & Guthlein Funeral Home of Milltown, NJ.
Mass will be held on Tuesday, 2/1, at Our Lady of Peace, 1730 US 130, North Brunswick at 10:00am followed by a burial at General Doyle Cemetery, 350 Province Line Rd, Wrightstown, NJ at 12:30pm.
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