I have met so many interesting people at the tennis courts that I thought it would be good thing to interview some of them and offer it to our VDO tennis community on a periodic basis (read:around my time schedule).
Another of our esteemed tennis club members, Fred Steputis deserves recognition, and thus, I am presenting his life story to you.
Fred was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he still resides with his wife Doris.
After completing high school, Fred joined the Navy Air Corps at 17
years old. He claims it wasn’t such a noble thing to do as, had he
waited until he was 18, he would have been drafted into the infantry!
From 1944 he spent two years in the Navy. His early training was at
North Carolina University where he spent a year before starting primary
Navy flight training, followed by advanced flight training in Corpus
He wisely decided to enter the University of Colorado to study civil engineering, where he specialized in structural concrete engineering. He was fortunate to attend on a fully paid GI Bill including living expenses. Apparently the GI Bill was the most comprehensive following WWII. Upon graduation, he spent eight years designing concrete structures for the Coors beer company (where the founder, Adolf Coors believed that his employees deserved all the beer they could drink - even on the job!)
In 1958, he was working for a copper mining company as an engineer when the price of copper plummeted from 68 cents to 16 cents a pound. The project was canceled, in todays parlance, Fred was" downsized". Never missing a beat, he was hired into the Titan ICBM development program at Cape Canaveral as an aeronautical engineer,where he spent two years with the Martin Marietta Aerospace Company, which later became Lockheed Martin. They were working on the "Titan" missile and Fred was involved in the testing and firing of test missiles. He says it was "panic time" in the intercontinental ballistics missile industry as the Russians had launched Sputnik and the US knew the Russians had the capability to launch a missile but the US was lagging behind.
Following his time in Cape Canaveral, Fred transferred back to Denver with the Martin company where he spent the next 30 years. During this period he worked on several programs including heading an early NASA design concept study for the Hubble telescope.
1970 brought one of his greatest tragedies, the death of his wife, Betty, giving birth to their fourth child. Faced with raising four children, including a newborn son, Fred’s parents graciously moved in and helped out for two years. Five years later he met and married Doris, a former United Airlines stewardess (Flight Attendant). Together they raised their blended family - Fred’s three boys & one girl, and Doris’ two girls & one boy. Fred now has three grandchildren and Doris has four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
After this in- depth look at Fred’s life, I now think of him as "Mountain Man". There are 52 mountains in Colorado over 14,000 feet, known colloquially as "the 14s". Fred has climbed 35 of them! I won’t mention his age, but Fred has seen enough sun rises in his life that he claims there were only 50 such peaks when he started! He also did a lot of rock-climbing and Alpine skiing. He and some of his skiing buddies would ski down the Berthoud Pass outside Denver and hitch-hike back to the top. He says there was never a problem getting a ride because it was 1938 and most people had never seen skis! He was later on the volunteer ski patrol at Winter Park. He and Doris gave up skiing for VDO just ten years ago.
Fred and Doris travelled extensively in their life together. They have driven a motor home through every state, including Alaska, but never made it to Delaware! They have been through every Canadian province except Newfoundland and have twice driven through Central America to the Panama Canal, through some horrendously tedious border crossings. They have visited 45 countries around the world and have been on five cruises. Fred took up tennis roughly 30 years ago and now plays three or four times a week all summer in Colorado and is a very active 2.5 player here in VDO. In fact most mornings he can be found playing with the 6.30 A.M. gang!
I think one of the most telling things about Fred and his life with Doris ,his wife of 37 years, is when she stated to me that "Fred is the smartest man I have ever known”
Here’s to many more active years Fred, you are one special guy!!!