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Fred M. Springer was born June 30, 1928 in Washington, D.C. to George E. and Marguerite Springer. They were of Iowa ancestry who migrated west after the Revolutionary War. Fred is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution as his Dutch ancestors fought in the New York Militia. He was raised in Houston, Texas so viewed that as his home having graduated from Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in 1945. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Missouri School of Mines (Now Missouri University of Science and Technology) in 1949 and was awarded a professional degree from the same university in 1999. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity. In 1985 he was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award and in 1996 he was inducted into the Academy of Mechanical Engineers at Rolla. There is a classroom named for him in the new Mechanical Engineering Building at Rolla.
Upon graduation from Rolla in 1949 he went to work immediately for Magnolia Pipe Line Company (which became Mobil Pipe Line Company) in Sundown, Texas. He moved around the Texas oil patch for Mobil until 1963 when he was transferred to the New York headquarters of Mobil. He had a varied professional career retiring in 1985 as Vice President of Mobil Diversified Businesses, a division of Mobil that managed the non oil properties such as coal and chemicals. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and a Registered Professional Surveyor in the State of Texas. He is a life member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
He was drafted into the US Army in 1950 and was sent directly to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma as a fire direction specialist due to his engineering background. While this was the Korean war era, his unit the 18th Field Artillery Battalion, was sent to Babenhausen, Germany as part of the â€śArmy of Occupationâ€ť. He had a leave of absence from Mobil, so upon return to the USA as a Sergeant, he immediately went back to work in the West Texas oil fields.
He had a life time interest in railroads and trains, a hobby which he pursued with vigor. He found that moving around in the oil business was not conducive to indoor model railroad layouts because of frequent physical transfers. As a result about 1967 he discovered live steam, a hobby of miniature trains running on 7 1/2 inch gauge track that are big enough to ride on. He is still a member of the New Jersey Live Steamers where it started and now also the Southwestern Live Steamers covering Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. He has three steam locomotives and three electric engines and many cars. They are easily hauled around in a pick up truck. Fred retired from Mobil in 1985 and moved to Salado, Texas where he built a backyard railroad to run his trains on as there was no nearby club track to use.
In addition to live steam he was an avid collector and photographer of everything relating to trains. His collection of books, timetables and passes was donated to the Railroad & Heritage Museum of Temple, Texas
who named a park next to the Santa Fe Railway depot in his honor. His large photography collection has been donated to the Center for Railroad Photography and Art at Madison, Wisconsin and Lake Forest College in Illinois.
In 1993 he bought a full size railroad car off the famed â€śSuper Chiefâ€ť. The Vista Canyon is a four drawing room, one bedroom lounge car that was the rear end of that famous train. Restored to operating condition set by Amtrak the car recorded over 50,000 miles while Fred owned it. In 2001 he donated it to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Arizona where he is a life member. He made many trips to Australia and New Zealand and was in 1992 awarded a Honorary membership in the Australian Society of Live Seamers. In 2012 he was awarded the Senior Achievement Award by the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.
He is a life member of the National Model Railroad Association and a 60 year member of the National Railway Historical Society and a member of the Santa Fe Model Railroad Club.
He is a lifetime Methodist having joined First United Methodist in Houston while in high school. As a result of many relocations he has been a member of too many churches to list. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in Chicago (1976-83). He is a member of St. Johnâ€™s United Methodist Church in Santa Fe.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and a daughter, Janice Marie.
He is survived by his wife, Dale Marie Mizell Springer and their children Kathryn Kuddes, Paul Springer and Carol Luttrell and the grandchildren, Denver Luttrell, Austin Luttrell, and London Luttrell.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, April 24, at 1 p.m. at Garden of Memories Cemetery with Rev. Brian Brownlow officiating and military graveside rites under the direction of McCoy Funeral Home. A reception will be held at the First United Methodist Church following the service.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.mccoyfh.com.