Freda “Fritzi” Shonk
August 24, 1921
February 16, 2016
Freda L. Dugstad was born August 24, 1921, in Kildeer, ND, 6th of ten children born to John and Ida Dugstad. The family moved to Spring Valley, MN where Freda spent most of her childhood. One of her first jobs was as an “upstairs maid” for the millionaire Staples family in Minnesota. During WWII she worked at the Waters-Conley Company in Rochester, MN, which had switched to making tank and signal corps equipment during the war. Around this time Freda’s brother, Irwin (Doug), nicknamed her “Fritz.” In 1950 she dared to go out west to Denver with a friend. The friend went back home but Fritz stuck it out and soon found waitressing work through a temp agency at a restaurant called Gaetano’s. She didn’t know who she was really working for until she met a guy named Harold “Harry” Shonk at a bar in Denver. He was stationed at Lowry AFB. It did not bother her when he told her she was working in the Smaldone’s restaurant, the family of notorious mobsters. Clyde and Checkers Smaldone would come in to the restaurant all the time and sit at her table, order coffee, and tip her a dollar each. Harry begged her to quit but she wouldn’t. So, he swept her off her feet and out of Denver. They were married six weeks after they met and Fritz became a military wife. They moved through several states: Texas, Hawaii (twice), Washington, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Nebraska, and had 3 children along the way.
Fritz was very active in the NCO Wives Club at the bases where they were stationed. She and Harry also loved bowling and won trophies for several teams. They finally settled back where they had met, in Denver, in 1967, after Harry retired from the Air Force. Fritz soon found work at Pinehurst Country Club as a banquet waitress and was a fixture there for over 25 years. By now she was called “Fritzi.”
Everyone who knew Fritzi would tell you she was somethin’ special. She was gregarious to a fault and had a gift for making everyone feel welcome and loved. She had enormous energy, a wry wit, an easy laugh, and she prized having fun. This never stopped as dementia took over her mind, as her caregivers at Julia Temple Healthcare Center well know. She has teased them mercilessly for the last four years and they loved her for it. She also loved travelling and toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand and much of the U.S.
Fritzi died Tuesday morning, February 16th, at Julia Temple Healthcare Center and was the last of her siblings to pass on. And though we are happy she is reunited with her family she leaves holes in our hearts and we will miss her dearly.
She is survived by a son, Mark Shonk (Elizabeth), a daughter, Mary Shonk, and a grandchild, Jesryn Shonk, all of Denver. She is also survived by dozens of beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and by loving friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Harry, a daughter, Peggy Shonk, sisters Alva Cloutier, Charlotte Jackson, June Hayden and Mary Ann Bartelme, and brothers Harlan, Irwin, Bill, Dale and David Dugstad.
Private graveside service TBD.
In honor of Fritzi, the family encourages you to make a donation to any organization helping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.