52 Ancestors: #1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974

52ancestorsI 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.

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

1940 census
“United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch – Fred R Dempsey, Falls Magisterial District, Fayette, West Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 10-5, sheet 20A, family 375, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 4401.

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.

Victor School group photo ca. 1945

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.

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

Fred R. Dempsey 1966
Fred R. Dempsey 1966

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. The four years passed and he 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.

1956 near Born, Luxembourg

While stationed in Germany he took 1st place in the hill climb race (motorcycle) in Born (Luxembourg).

On March 2, 1957, he married Catherine Josette Wildinger in Luxembourg.

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 May 19, 1974, of a myocardial infarction, but he lives on in our hearts.

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



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.

17 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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