Frederick Ernest Juliano, age 91, passed away peacefully in Bozeman, Montana, on December 6, 2022.
Frederick was born in Chicago to poor Italian immigrants, the last of nine children, three of whom died as infants. The timing of his birth, early in the Great Depression, was financially challenging for his family. Italian-Americans were widely discriminated against, especially for jobs. When Fred was two years old, his father was unemployed and applying to any job he thought might hire him. Unable to afford to take the streetcar, he walked to and from potential employers. After coming home in the cold rain from one such effort, he got pneumonia, and died.
Thereafter, Fred’s mother sewed clothing at home for piecework wages, while raising 6 children as a single mother. Most of Fred’s siblings were forced to leave school before starting high school, driven by the need to work and help earn money for the family. Although the financial situation was tight, the family was a strong one, and music was always important. With financial support from his siblings, Fred learned to play trumpet as a child, his mother wanting his lungs to be strong enough that he would never succumb to pneumonia, like his father.
Living in a rough neighborhood, some of Fred’s friends were not considered good influences by his mother. She was able to get him into Sacred Heart seminary in Melrose Park IL starting at age 13—the youngest student there. During his time there, he learned piano, and graduated early in June 1948 at age 16. He then entered DePaul University, majoring in music (trumpet performance).
Working multiple jobs to pay for college while helping care for his mother, Fred soon realized that his musical talent and training, while strong by neighborhood standards, would leave him with limited career prospects as a professional musician. He left DePaul and enlisted in the Air Force in 1951, intending to become a fighter pilot in the Korean War.
Soon after joining the Air Force, he learned that he was too young to start pilot training and went into meteorology instead. This specialization led him to be first posted at Thule Air Force Base (in Greenland), helping maintain the USA’s northernmost radar stations nearby, which would give the USA its first notice of any bombers incoming from the Soviet Union. His final posting, in 1954, was on T-3, Fletcher’s Ice Island—an enormous iceberg floating around the Arctic Circle. As part of a small 9-man crew, he took weather measurements to be used in case USAF strategic bombers needed to be sent over the North Pole.
On T-3, Fred worked with a civilian geophysicist to take scientific ocean measurements. Intrigued, and approaching the end of his commitment to the Air Force, he resolved to pursue an engineering degree next. This he did, graduating from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with a B.S. in Civil Engineering (focusing on structural engineering) in 1958. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree.
After a few shorter-term jobs and a brief first marriage, in 1964 Fred starting working for the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago as a civil engineer. It was there he met the woman who would become his lifelong wife, Frances. Fred earned an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from IIT in 1967.
Married in April 1969, Frederick and Frances had their first son, Daniel, in January 1970, while living in downtown Chicago. Fred, a smoker at the time, tried his best to keep the smoke away from his newborn son and wife, opening their apartment’s window to the cold Chicago winter. This effectively resulted in the apartment becoming both smokey and cold. Disgusted with this result, Fred exercised his powerful self-discipline, abruptly (and permanently) quitting smoking while simultaneously going on a diet.
The young family moved to the Chicago suburb of Roselle in 1971. Second son Patrick was born in 1974. The family led a generally idyllic life there for nearly three decades, surrounded by wonderful neighbors and a kind community. Leading by example, Fred resumed playing both trumpet and piano, and took up the cello too, while his sons played in the school band. Fred arranged several musical pieces and even composed an original Italian-style “Old Time March”, all for the middle school band to perform. He played trumpet with the DuPage County Symphony Orchestra, and in numerous musicals put on by St. Marcelline Church in Schaumburg.
In his 40’s, Fred played competitive tennis in his spare time. In his 50’s, he injured his right shoulder and was no longer able to serve. Undaunted, he simply learned to serve with his left arm. What he lost in physical capability he made up for by playing ambidextrously, an unnerving experience for opponents.
A life-long learner, in the 1980’s Fred became interested in computer science and began going to night school at DePaul University. He retired from the Sanitary District in 1989, and received his Master’s degree in Computer Science in 1990. In 1991, he started teaching classes at two local community colleges (College of DuPage and Harper College).
Fred took up golf, attacking it with the same intensity and frugality as his other pursuits—starting by viewing 30+ golf-related videos from the local library, writing up summaries and grading each on a scale from A through F.
He also applied his intellect and discipline to studying sailing, something he had always wanted to do but had not previously had time for. In 1995, Frederick and Frances bought a 33-foot sailboat, and for years sailed Lake Michigan out of Winthrop Harbor, occasionally accompanied by one or both of their sons.
In 1998, they moved to a new house, designed by Fred, on a golf course in Morris IL, and gave up their sailboat to focus on golf.
In 2014, they moved to Mesquite NV, where they enjoyed the warm weather, playing bridge, and Fred joined the local Pistol Club (competitive target shooting). However, in later years, Frances was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Frederick cared for her as long as he possibly could. But in late 2021, Fred started having symptoms of metastasized colon cancer and could no longer take care of Frances. In early 2022, they both moved into the Highgate senior living facility in Bozeman MT, close to son Daniel. There, they spent most afternoons and evenings together, until Frances passed away in late April.
Throughout his life, Fred retained the strong values that allowed his family to endure the Depression, while working to find his own way up from humble beginnings. What his family lacked in financial resources and privilege, he made up for through grit, discipline, achievement, and a healthy contrarian instinct. He strived to share his hard-won wisdom to become a guide and a model for others close to him—nephews, nieces, and friends, as well as his sons. His favorite advice for a happy life: you need someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.
Frederick was preceded in death by his parents, 7 of his 8 siblings (excepting Jerry, now 103 years old), and his wife. He is survived by his two sons Daniel and Patrick; and 6 grandchildren: Daniel, Ellie, David, Sarah, Claire, and Francesca.
The family is planning a private celebration of Frederick’s life in the summer, to be held in the Chicago area.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]