In Memory

Fred B. Hennessee - Class Of 1968

I am glad that Fred's friends remember him. I met him at FAU and we were good friends, (as I remain close with his older brother David to this day). Fred was in his Fiat on Congress Ave, waiting at the light (the cross street was either Forest Hill Blvd or 10th in West Palm). A drunken women plowed into the Fiat's driver's side. Fred was rushed to Good Sam. Hospital, was in a coma, and died six hours later never regaining consciousness. Fred loved Florida, brought the Rolling Stones to the speedway and was a local Head Hunter before going into telephone sales. Before he died, he had found an inner peace and felt that his life was in order. Thanks again for remembering our friend.

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06/02/09 06:26 PM #1    

Robert Jordan (1968)

Fred Hennessee, or just Fred as everyone called him, was part of the surfer crowd.. always sun burnt and bleached blonde.

I remember around 1966, when we were in the 10th or 11th grade, Fred was attacked by a shark while waiting for a wave to swell.. the shark bit his arm I think and he wore an arm bandage and sling, and he was quite proud of it..

After graduation, I don't know where he went to college but I think he worked in Palm Beach. And when I was home for a long Christmas break in 1980, Dave Rubinson told me that Fred had died in his Porsche while sitting at a red light in Palm Beach near the Breakers Hotel.. and I'm not sure when in 1980 that was, maybe the summer. What I recall hearing was a speeding drunk driver failed to brake in time and hit him from behind totaling his Porsche 911 and killing him on the spot. He wasn't 30 years old. Porsches were well known as death traps.

More I can't tell you. This is all from what I recall Rubinson told me. And Dave Rubinsons', my best friend in college, word was his bond. I don't know where he was interned.. but I'm sure he's waiting for the perfect wave somewhere.. over there.

06/02/09 10:22 PM #2    

Debbie Miller (Wert) (1970)

I agree you cannot think of Fred without seeing him on his surf board, they seemed to go hand in hand. I could have sworn it was his foot or ankle that got bit by the shark...guess my mind is getting older than I thought.
Debbie Miller Wert

06/06/09 07:18 AM #3    

Robert Jordan (1968)

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for adding your memories of Fred. We weren't friends, he was in the surfer clique, which I had no access to. Robert didn't surf LOL. But, if my memory serves me, it was his right arm.. that was bitten. I think it happened down by the Pump House or The Ship, The Greek cargo ship aka the Amaryliss (sp?) which went aground during Hurricane Betsy over Labor Day weekend in 1965. That much I remember well, we lost a day of school, had to start the fall semester late! And even tho I didn't know Fred that well, I did talk to him about his shark attack.. Of course there were witnesses out there that day.. most of the surfer crowd, and they were sitting on their boards waiting for a wave.. when either a Nurse or Sand shark attacked him. Had it been a huge shark such as a Great White, which were probably not native to Florida waters, he wouldn't have lived to tell the story.. and as he told it he was just sitting there and then began to paddle when he was attacked.. He was out of school for a day or so then showed up with his arm bandaged and in a sling. When I asked him about it he just shrugged.. if you didn't know him well, he could be a bit removed.

When I heard about his car crash in late 1980, I thought oh my Lord poor Fred.. like on his surf board, he was just sitting in his Porsche waiting for a light to change.. A wave or a light, same thing.. something was out to get him. I don't know what happened to the drunk driver. But I hope he was arrested and charged with not only DWI, but whatever the law could throw at him, so he either did time, or never drove a car again.

08/23/11 08:05 PM #4    

Susan Wilcox (1968)

My deepest sympathy to Fred's family and friends. I have had the unfortunate experience of learning that one of my loved ones was killed by a drunk driver, so I understand what the family is experiencing. My nephew was killed in Sarasota, FL on March 20, 1994 when a man with a BAC of 0.223 lost control of his panel van and went airborne. He slammed into my nephew's car and crushed him to death. He died instantly, so he never knew what happened. That is the only comfort that my family has. Bobby was my sister's only child.  It has devastated her, and taken years off of her life.  Since that time my sister and I joined MADD and we are both volunteer court monitors.  We go to the cases and listen to the proceedings. The judges know that MADD is in the courtroom, and that gives them the courage to hand down harsh penalties for first time and repeat offenders. MADD is also at work trying to change the laws regarding the penalties for DUI's. I know in Florida, a first time offender has to surrender his license, pay a heavy fine and do jail time in addition to probation. They also have to pay a heavy fine and pay the probation officer for the time they are on probation. If the kill someone, the are charged with DUI, DUI Manslaughter, DUI causing extreme bodily injury, and have to serve 85% of their sentence before the are even eligible for parole.  If the family has not thought about joining MADD, they may want to consider it. It is a way to do homage for Fred and to get justice for him to. Fred may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

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