Eight Bells: Fred Bremen, Sr

Published on September 17th, 2014

Frederick Alvin Bremen, Sr. of Palm Bay, Florida died on Saturday, September 13, 2014. He was 89.

Fred was born to Anna May Stringham and John Cooper Bremen on New York City’s City Island on February 21, 1925. This tiny island with a strong maritime heritage would have a lifelong influence on him. He and his three brothers, Sam, Ed and John, each joined a different branch of the US Military. Fred joined the United States Navy in 1943 and served in the Pacific Theater as a Boatswain’s Mate Second Class during World War II aboard the USS William M Wood and LST181. He was the recipient of the Asiatic Pacific Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal and the American Theater Victory Medal.

After an Honorable Discharge in 1946, he returned to City Island, and shortly thereafter met Geraldine Gesicki. The inseparable pair were married on June 22, 1947, and they shared over 67 years of love and laughter. Son Fred, Jr. was born less than a year later, followed by Tom in 1951.

He joined the State of New York’s Apprenticeship Program with the renowned sailmaking firm Ratsey and Lapthorne, ultimately moving the family to Miami to open a Ratsey sail loft there. When that business closed, he was asked to return to New York, but South Florida had become home. He opened Fred A. Bremen, Sailmakers, a business he eventually ran with first one and eventually two of his sons. He retired from that career when he moved to Palm Bay, Florida in 1981. Bremen Sails is still run by son Tom and daughter-in-law Jill.

As a sailor, Fred had many achievements and won many championships, but his proudest moments revolved around his relationships with young people and helping them achieve their dreams through the perfect sail and years of sailing experience. He was instrumental in starting the International Optimist Dinghy Sailing Program, and young sailors from around the world clamored to own a genuine Bremen Sail. Perhaps none was as distinctive or memorable as the bright pink sail framed with red hearts that he made for his only granddaughter, Mandy, an international champion herself.

In 1972, rather than take a long-planned trip to Hawai’i for their 25th wedding anniversary, Fred and Gerry instead purchased a 15’ long Dutch Craft travel trailer and a sky-blue Ford pickup truck, and set off to “look for America.” That was replaced by a larger Holiday Rambler the following year, and long summer vacations became a tradition while son Fred Jr. ran the loft in Miami. Joining them on the many journeys through 48 states and Canada was their third son, Gary, grateful beneficiary of all the lessons learned with Fred and Tom.

In Palm Bay, Fred became active in the Lions Club and learned to play golf…poorly. A renewed interest in an earlier passion, archery, led him to become a founding member of the Brevard Archers. He participated in many Florida Senior Games and Sunshine State Games, bringing home many medals. He worked as a Browning Pro, shooting with the latest equipment for all to see.

Those who knew and loved him have no doubt that he will not “rest in peace.” There is just too much to do, too many places to explore, too much fun to be had.

He is survived by his sweetheart of 67 years, Geraldine Gesicki Bremen, son Fred Bremen, Jr. and Fred’s Daughter Mandy Bremen, son Tom Bremen and Tom’s wife Jill Kamilar-Bremen, son Gary Bremen and Gary’s partner Roger Boone, would-be son Mike Guido and Mike’s wife Rhonda Guido, and countless friends who knew and loved him.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Frederick A. Bremen Memorial Fund to purchase supplies for a children’s archery program. Make checks payable to Brevard Archers, PO Box 410031, Melbourne, FL 32941.

Visitation and memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 20 at Fountainhead Memorial Funeral Home, 7359 Babcock Street SE, Palm Bay, FL 32909.

Gary Bremen
Wilton Manors, Florida

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