Frederick Naslund was born at the cusp of a new year in Seattle, Washington, to Margaret and Grover Naslund, the fourth of their five children. He died March 4, encircled by his daughters and grandchildren, within blocks of where he lived for nearly half of his 93 years.
With the exception of his military service, spent mostly in Panama, Fred lived the entirety of his life in Bellevue and Redmond, Wash. He told the best stories of growing up in a Bellevue few would recognize, surrounded by strawberry fields, running along dirt roads and irrigation ditches. Imagine the changes he witnessed as these small, agricultural communities grew to burgeoning tech centers!
Fred graduated from Bellevue High School and worked for his family’s concrete contracting business. One day in 1950, he strode into Kay Lumber Company on those long legs, with his red hair, crooked smile, and sparkling, slightly mischievous, blue eyes. He was picking up materials for a job, but this day was different. It was when he first met Janice Eason and the earth shifted slightly on its axis. Several days later he pulled over and gave her a ride as she was walking home from work, though he always joked that he “picked her up hitchhiking.” Across the span of 70 years, Fred and Janice built a family, two businesses, and a haven for us all. They were such a team.
Marrying in 1953, the first of their three red-haired children, Nancy, was born in 1955, followed by Julie and David. They started their own concrete company, with Fred and his crew doing the physical work, while Janice kept the business afloat back home, handling bookkeeping, phones, and scheduling. They worked hard and time off was rare. The kids were sometimes recruited to go to a job site after dinner and hold the flashlight while Fred finished up a job, something he didn’t have the heart to ask of one of his men.
As a young man, Fred began investing in real estate in the Bellevue area. In 1964 he closed the concrete business and partnered with Terry McCormick to form McCormick and Naslund Realty. He still worked long hours and always asked more of himself than anyone who worked for him, but real estate served him well. He was made for it — smart, financially savvy, and he loved talking with people. In his later years, he liked to say “don’t wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait.” He couldn’t claim the line as original, but he loved it, and he certainly lived it. Fred finally closed the office and “retired” in 1999, but kept his broker’s license active until just a few years ago.
Fred was steadfast, loyal, honest, and welcoming. Hard work, frugality, and sacrifice for family were encoded in his DNA and his parting phrase was often, “Save your money!” He was a voracious reader, vigilant and curious about everything, enjoying roving conversations that might encompass history, advances in science, technology, finance, aviation, tools, conservation, gardening, and of course, apples. He was our encyclopedia. Few could match his curiosity but when someone did, they forged an inseparable bond. How many times did Janice find herself wondering where Fred was when he had just “stepped out to get the mail” an hour ago. She would find him, invariably, with his neighbor in the driveway, having not yet made it out of the yard.
Fred fully engaged with those who were lucky enough to cross his path. He built community among his neighbors, sharing stories and the goodness from his gardens — armloads of flowers, bunches of spicy pink and red radishes, baskets of juicy tomatoes, sweet Italian prunes from his prolific trees, raspberries and wild blackberries. Working in his yard and garden brought him such pleasure and he was always busy doing something — or two or three things. “I can’t” wasn’t in his vocabulary. There was nothing he couldn’t do, no project he wouldn’t take on. He could putter for hours, humming contentedly. Music seemed to emanate from him. His daughters still shiver with pleasure at the memory of his beautiful tenor drifting through the house, singing “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Fred touched the world. He was a gentle, patient, and tender man. People felt safe around him, animals were drawn to him. He was, at his core, a truly kind man, and that kindness yielded more kindness in others. He embraced what he had to do and did it with commitment and curiosity. These last two years, since Janice’s death in March 2020, were not easy. Navigating loss in the midst of a pandemic, and staying safe, meant being mostly alone, but he approached even that with determination and focus, staying as engaged as he could and working in his yard. He was blessed — not by accident but through his gregarious and generous nature — with neighbors who looked out for him, brought him meals, helped with the yard, and loved him.
Fred was predeceased by his lovely Janice, and by his son David, whose loss he felt viscerally until he no longer could. He was predeceased by both parents, by his siblings Tom, Howard, Mary, and Paul; and by many friends.
He is survived by his daughters, Nancy Naslund (John Piatt) of Port Townsend, Wash., and Julie Naslund (Michael Nevill) of Bend, Oregon; and by his eight grandchildren — Grace (Colin), Ella (Pete), Forrest (Trisha), Michael, Bereket, Freya, Miles, and Isabel — whom he supported in all their endeavors, always ready to help when needed. He is also survived by his great-grandson, Jasper David, who brought that certain sparkle to his eyes. He is survived by beloved nieces, who felt more like daughters, Susan, Cynthia, Aimee; and their families; and by loving friends who became family, Helen and Lowell, Ajay and Ashwini. His extended family of nieces and nephews, and their families, also survive him.
Fred made a difference. He lifted up those around him. Please honor him by lending a hand to someone in need, building community, saving your money, caring for those you love. Plant flowers, grow tomatoes, pick blackberries, eat apples.
The family hopes to host a gathering in July to celebrate Fred and Janice’s lives.