52 Ancestors: #1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974

I decided to [silently] accept Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks at the beginning of the year and posted the first 3 weeks to our closed family group on Facebook. Things went well and I’ve decided [maybe] it’s time to try the blogging world. This is a slightly revised version of the original #1 posted on January 9th.

#1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974

Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY was born 3 November 1935, the fifth child and second son of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP, in Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia.1 His maternal grandmother, Rebecca Jane (CLONCH) ROOP was the midwife.2

1940 census
1940 U.S. Federal Census, household of Fred R. Dempsey

In 1940 he was first enumerated on a census along with his parents Fred 40 and Myrtle 34; sisters, Thelma 16, Lois 15, Leona 13; and brother Doyle 8. His two youngest brothers, Leland and Lloyd, were born after 1940.3

While growing up he attended Hopewell Baptist Church. The family moved into the Dempsey home in Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1940 following the census. Freddy and his brothers only had to go next door to get to school. By 1945 his three sisters had all married.

Victor School (Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia) group photo ca. 1945. On the back, Fred began writing the names of his classmates (two back rows) and his mother wrote the rest (three front rows).

On 4 October 1948, a Sunday morning, at the age of 12 Fred fractured his right arm when he fell from a swing at his home and was taken to Charleston General Hospital.4 A couple of years later, while playing basketball in high school, he broke the same arm on the anniversary of the first break. In later years, whenever possible, he would choose to stay home on the anniversary as he considered it his bad luck day.

1965 on the flightline of Toul-Rosières AFB, France

The New Year 1954 started with a bang at the Army and Air Force recruiting station on Main St. in Beckley, when Freddy, 18, of Victor, enlisted in the Air Force for four years and was sent to Sampton AFB, New York.5 At the end of his four years he decided to re-enlist and made the USAF his career. During his 21 years in the military, he served in Germany, Georgia, France, Idaho, Thailand, Spain, South Carolina, and Texas. A certificate of Honorable Service was awarded as a testimony of his honest and faithful service to the Air Force and his country.6

1956 near Born, Luxembourg

While stationed in Germany he took 1st place in the hill climb race on his motorcycle in Born, Luxembourg).7

He was one of the eight motorcyclists from Bitburg AB, Germany, chosen to represent the US Air Force team in an international meet in Echternach, Luxembourg, on 10 May 1956.8 It was the 2nd International Motocross Meet organized by the Echternach section of the Motor-Union and was held on Christi Himmelfahrt or Ascension Day.9

On 2 March 1957, he married Catherine Josette WILDINGER in Echternach, Luxembourg.10

Following the births of their first two daughters, he complained that he would probably never have a son and then became the father of three sons!

This ‘n That

He was a First Aid instructor while stationed in Georgia.
He was a crew chief and enjoyed telling about how he would hide a foreign object in the cockpit of a plane to test his crew.
He tried out different crafts (attended a ceramic class, did leather and woodwork) and left several treasured pieces.
He was the family photographer and the reason that we have so few photos of him.
He enjoyed watching his boys play little league baseball, would be seen in the bleachers helping with the scorekeeping, and even helped coach one of his son’s teams.
He didn’t play many sports as an adult but was very proud of a 300 game he once bowled.
He enjoyed owning “special” cars. While in SC he bought a dune buggy which he drove to TX when the family moved there.
During his tour of duty in Thailand, he took classes in Catholicism but never converted.

Freddy DEMPSEY died on 19 May 1974, of myocardial infarction.11 His heart died but Dad lives on in our hearts.

This Post Was Updated on 2 January 2022: Missing source citations were added, images were watermarked, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.



  1. “West Virginia Births and Christenings, 1853-1928,” database, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the county courthouses, Fayette County (West Virginia) County Clerk, Death records, birth records 1933-1944, Digital Folder Number: 004226925, Microfilm Number: 584757, Indexing Batch: C58501-6. Fred Roosevelt Dempsey, male, white, American, born 3 Nov 1935 in Jodie, Fayette, West Virginia, father Fred R. Dempsey, mother Myrtle H. Roop. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:4K17-KQZM : accessed 2 January 2022). Information from index only; no image due to data privacy restrictions preventing access. 
  2. Per Lois Emma Dempsey (1925-2006) Rebecca Jane Clonch, a midwife, was present at the births of all of her daughter Myrtle’s children, her grandchildren: Thelma 1923, Lois 1925, Leona 1927, Doyle 1931, and Fred 1935 in Jodie, as well as, Leland 1941 and Lloyd 1944 in Victor. 
  3. 1940 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2442/), citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D. C., NARA microfilm publication T647, 4,643 rolls, Roll: T627-04401, West Virginia, Fayette County, Falls magisterial district, Jodie, enumeration district 10-5, sheet 20A, line 10-16, household 375, Fred R. Dempsey (accessed 31‎ Mar 2012).
  4. The Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, West Virginia, Newspaperarchive.com database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper; searchable text version and newspaper images, copyright 2006 Heritage Microfilm, Inc., 4 October 1948, p. 10, col. 1-2, “Car Accidents, Kill 1, Hurt 5”.  The article continues to list other persons also at Charleston General hospital including “Fred Dempsey Jr., 12 years old, of Victor, fractured his right arm when he fell from a swing at his home Sunday morning.” (https://newspaperarchive.com/ : accessed 15 March 2006). 
  5. Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia), Ancestry citing database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper by NewspaperArchive.com. 5 January 1954, p. 5, col. 1+2, “Army, Air Force Enlist 49 Men In New Year Drive”. (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/500208645:51098?ssrc=pt&tid=164805854&pid=102139759144 : accessed 25 May 2009) 
  6. Dean M. Murphy, Lt. Col. USAF, for the Department of the Air Force (Washington D.C.) to Mrs. Fred R. Dempsey (San Antonio, TX), letter with attached Certificate of Honorable Service in memory of Fred R. Dempsey, 12 June 1974, scanned copy of original held by the recipient. 
  7. Photograph of Fred R. Dempsey taken in 1956 near Born, Luxembourg. On the back of the photograph, the subject wrote, “This is the time I took first place in the hill climb race in Born, Luxembourg.” in his own handwriting. 
  8. The SkyBlazer (Bitburg, Germany), May 1956, “Eight Bitburg Motorcyclists to Race In Gruelling International Meet” 
  9. Luxemburger Wort, digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg, http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu (Verlage der St-Paulus-Druckerei, Luxembourg), Tuesday, 8 May 1956, p. 8, col. 1-2, “IIe Grand Moto-Cross International am kommenden Donnerstag in Echternach” (https://persist.lu/ark:70795/7x3rqfpm6/pages/8/articles/DIVL644?search=moto-cross : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  10. Certified copy of the 1957 Marriage Record obtained at the Commune of Echternach. 
  11. Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976, (database index and images), FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 2243192, State Registrar Office, Austin, certificate number 31474, Fred R. Dempsey died 19 May 1974. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-25168-61652-48?cc=1983324 : accessed 27 Apr 2014). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

25 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974”

  1. Loved my uncle Freddy and his family. He and Josette invited Ray, our two children and me to their home for a visit while you all lived in San Antonio. I remembered they were so kind and hospitable to us and I got to meet my cousins. Such a dear family and I just wish we could see each other more, but we are so scattered in different parts of the country. The only hope is maybe someday at the Dempsey reunion. I wish the very best for each of you and thank you, Cathy, for your time and work on this family project. Love to all! Brenda


  2. This reminds me of my dear friend Freddy Dempsey who still lives in Roanoke Virginia. His fathers name was Johnny Kay Dempsey……..who also died of a suspected MI.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Small world Butch. Johnny Kay Dempsey (1935-2003) was my 4th cousin. His mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were Dempsey’s. His great-great-grandfather was George W. Dempsey, son of my 3rd great-grandfather Seaton Y. Dempsey. I have Johnny’s son Freddie in my database but did not know he was missing or deceased. Thank you for stopping by on my Dad’s birthday.


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