by Jim Petersen, Evergreen Foundation
Oregon lumberman, Ted Freres, 68, died Sunday morning, June 3, in a Salem hospital following a long battle with cancer. Mr. Freres was the youngest of four sons born to T.G. Freres, founder of the Freres Lumber Company, now one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of plywood and veneer, and the only mass plywood panel manufacturer in North America.
Mr. Freres and his surviving half-brother, 88-year-old Robert T. “Bob” Freres, were the guiding forces behind the company after their father died in 1979. Ted joined the company following his 1973 graduation from Oregon State University. Brother Bob had joined their father at the family’s now long-gone Lyons sawmill in 1952.
Freres Lumber exited the sawmill business in favor of plywood manufacturing in 1959. The late William Swindells Sr., who was then president of the Willamette Valley Lumber Company [later Willamette Industries and now Weyerhaeuser], had offered to partner with T.G. in the construction of a plywood manufacturing plant at Lyons.
In the years following T.G.’s 1979 death, the surviving brothers shared management decision making, though Ted slowly assumed more of the daily responsibility for the company’s two veneer plants, and later, its plywood operation. Bob’s son, Rob, and two of Ted’s sons, Kyle and Tyler, followed suit after they graduated from college, forming the third Freres generation to be involved in the company’s veneer, plywood, energy, and mass plywood panel operations.
Ted Freres was the only son in a family of six children born of the 1939 marriage of T.G. and Frances Silbernagle Freres. T.G had married Frances two years after the 1937 death of his first wife, Teresa. Her death had left T.G. with four children: Larry, who died in 1971, Harold “Bud,” who died in 1968 and Phyllis, who died in 1972. Only Bob survives T.G.’s first marriage.
Ted Freres is survived by his wife, Diane, and three sons, Cameron, Kyle and Tyler. Ted and Diane Nurmi were married in San Francisco in November of 1973, six months following their graduations from Oregon State University. He joined Freres Lumber after graduation and, soon thereafter, purchased the company’s first computer, a Wang, and hired a code writer to help him install it in the Lyons mill. Today, the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing processes are all controlled by advanced computer technologies.
Also surviving: Ted’s half-brother, Bob Freres, his nephew, Rob Freres, and sisters Maryann Frances Ortiz Meredith [Danny], Patricia Jean Nopp [Gary], Joyce Marie Merrell [Neil], Carol Ann Moll [Richard], and Teresa Delores McDougall [Donald], and many nieces and nephews.
Ted was preceded in death by his parents, T.G. and Frances Freres, and his half-brothers, Larry, who died from spinal meningitis in 1961 and Bud, who drowned in a diving accident in Hawaii in 1968, He was mayor of Stayton, Oregon at the time of his death.
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Freres are pending.