Frederick Lawrence “Fred” Boettcher, long-time Ponca City resident, community leader and philanthropist, died peacefully Sunday, June 9, 2019, at his home surrounded by his family. He was 80.
A Requiem Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, June 14, 2019, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ponca City. A Celebration of Life is scheduled for 2 p.m. the same day at Ponca City Schools Concert Hall, Fifth and Overbrook.
Fred was born March 16, 1939, in Phoenix, Ariz., to Fred C. And Shirley (Blubaugh) Boettcher. At the age of 1, Fred’s family moved to Ponca City as his father began a 40-year career with Conoco Refinery, his mother became a teacher and the family bought a farm.
While raised in town, Fred loved helping his father care for the family farm located southwest of Ponca City. This love continued for decades as Fred was equally at home on a combine or wheat drill as he was in the courtroom.
He graduated Ponca City High School in 1957. Following the awarding of a bachelor of science degree from the St. Louis University, the Air Force ROTC Top Cadet-award winner was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant and entered the USAF stationed at Duluth (Minn.) AFB. He served as a Special Agent, USAF Office of Special Investigation. He was honorably discharged three years later and continued his military career as Captain, USAF Reserve.
In 1967, Fred partnered with law school classmate David R. Garrison, of Cushing, to establish the Ponca City law firm of Boettcher and Garrison choosing a downtown location of the Community Building for their offices.
On August 31, 1968, Fred and the former Suzanne Webb Fulton were married in Rochester, N.Y. The couple made their home in Ponca City and, within months, Fred’s career as attorney at law and public servant entered a whirlwind stage which, for decades, didn’t slow down.
In November 1968, the Air Force Reservist accepted an appointment as 6th Congressional District Liaison Officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
From 1969-1974, he served three terms as District 37 Representative in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. While in the Oklahoma House he served as Vice Chairman of Banks and Banking Committee and was a member of Roads and Highways Committee; Elections and Privileges Committee and Oil and Gas Committee.
In 1969, Fred was appointed assistant district attorney by D.A. Ralph Haynes. That same year, Gov. George Nigh appointed Fred to an eight-year term on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. His term included serving as Chairman of the OTA.
In 1974, the 34-year-old declared his candidacy for State Treasurer against incumbent Leo Winters. Despite Fred’s defeat in the Democratic primary election, Fred and Winters became good friends.
With the law practice doors now thrown wide open, the former state representative formed the partnership of Boettcher & Brune, Ponca City, and Boettcher and Ryan, Oklahoma City. By choice, Fred limited his law practice to Plaintiff Personal Injury and Claimant Workers Compensation Litigation. He went on to establish a third law office in Tulsa, creating a combined staff of 22 attorneys and 50 support personnel in the three cities. At the time of his death Fred was a partner in Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle and Wicker law firm.
In 1982, Fred began revamping the former Montgomery Ward Auto Service building on North Fifth Street for the law offices of Boettcher, Leonard and Brune. This proved to be a milestone for Fred and Sue as they embarked on what became a personal involvement in the purchase and refurbishment of 21 Ponca City downtown buildings and the personal investment of more than $3 million.
The many contributions Fred quietly made included the purchase, refurbishment and donation of a building to become the permanent home of the United Way of Ponca City. He also purchased an apartment complex and deeded it to Peachtree Landing to provide housing for our community’s homeless.
Many service organizations working to improve area lives were supported by Fred’s financial and intellectual resources. These include Friendship Feast, The Mission, Child Development Center, Survivor’s Resource Network (formerly Domestic Violence Program of North Central Oklahoma), Northern Oklahoma Youth Shelter and the Poncan Theatre.
Volunteers conducting capital campaigns for area organizations often were given leading gifts from Fred and Sue to kick off those fundraisers. Among them, Ponca City Library Extension, Pioneer Woman Museum, Last Run Memorial and Ponca City RecPlex.
Among his many commitments, Fred also enjoyed serving as Director for the Oklahoma Catholic Foundation; Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Center and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Throughout it all, Fred continued to share his “Downtown Ponca City” devotion through the Ponca City Main Street program. And they loved him back. In 2004, he received Ponca City Main Street’s “Hero Award” as well as North Central Board of Realtors “Eagle Award.”
In 2005, the state’s Oklahoma Main Street program bestowed its “Hero Award” after selecting Fred from nominees submitted by 40 Main Street communities in Oklahoma. On the national front, The Daughters of the American Revolution bestowed upon Fred its national Community Service Award.
Tapping into Fred’s leadership prowess, Gov. Brad Henry appointed Fred to the A & M Board of Regents, entrusting him to oversee the work of seven colleges and universities including Oklahoma State University. (The irony of this appointment proved quite enjoyable to those aware of Fred’s “crimson and cream” fanaticism.)
Yet, one of Fred’s proudest moments came during a Ponca City Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet. Patricia “Patti” Evans, the 2004 Outstanding Citizen, announced Fred as the next honoree. Fred was selected by the collective vote of previous Outstanding Citizens of the Year as the 2005 Ponca City Area Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen.
In September, he will be posthumously inducted into the Ponca City High School Hall of Fame.
Fred’s self-deprecating sense of humor and his remarkable ability to remember jokes (and tell them well) are among the rare qualities which turned the sharp-eyed attorney into a really fun-to-be-around friend.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Reneé Taylor and grandson Adam Taylor.
He is survived by Suzanne, his wife of 51 years; and daughters, Robyn Ryan and husband Ron; Meredith Young and husband Perry; and Courtney Smith and husband Edgar. He also is survived by grandchildren, Ashlie Hazen and husband Travis; Jack Hacking, Simon Young, Sophia Young, Lauren (Mason) Harbert, Mackenzie Smith, Carter Smith, and Robyn Morris and husband Tim. Additional survivors include his great-grandchildren: Noah and Hunter Freeman, Adam Hazen and Madison and Morgan Morris. Fred also is survived by brothers, Tom Boettcher and wife Pam along with their children Lily and Evelyn; and Mike Boettcher and wife Katherine. He also is survived by nephews Carlos Frederick Boettcher, John Thomas Knapp and niece Isabella Boettcher along with numerous cousins.
The family shared this wish spoken recently by Fred: Though Fred would appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending flowers, he would rather you consider a donation to Ponca City Humane Society, The Mission or a charity of your choice.
Funeral services are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home and Crematory.