Obituary of Fredric Wildman
East Greenbush, NY
Fredric S. Wildman, age 71 of East Greenbush, NY died on Sunday evening, December 16, 2018 at his residence after a long illness. This was no ordinary man. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, Fred contained multitudes; generous and caring to his friends and intimates, a gifted student, distinguished lawyer, devoted teach of mathematics, a sharp investor and perceptive observer of current events, a man whose intellect, memory, and powers of analysis were formidable and at times astonishing.
The roots of the exceptional life began in humble circumstances. Born in Florida in 1947, Fred and his brother Rex grew up with his parents Oscar and Lily in an unpretentious, working- class household in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. His father, an immigrant from Central Europe, and his mother, a child of the Great Depression suffered through dislocation, economic hardship and a world war.
At P. S. 167 Fred’s intellect was notices early and he was directed into first of several of the NYC school systems, gifted programs, including the IGC (Intellectually Gifted Children) , the SP ( Special Progress) at John 210 JHS ( where he would late ironically return for a stint as a teacher), and then on to the elite Stuyvesant High School. Fred received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Brooklyn Law School. These school years included the making of early and long held friendships with Jerry Hertz, Jack Gerson and Kenny Roff.
Fred began his work life teaching at John Marshall Intermediate School in 1968, where after a year, he moved on to a 10- year post at Lincoln High School, first as a math instructor and then as a Dean. It was at Lincoln that Fred met and formed his lifelong friendship with his colleague Kenny Halpern.
In 1979, Fred went to work for the school system’s Board of Examiners, where he was part of the agencies responsibility for preparing licensing exams for all teaching positions. It was here that Fred not only met his great friend Fred Smith, and his much- loved and trusted confidante Paul Henfield, but also his mentor Ethel Fitzgerald, the Board’s Chairperson. This was to be a relationship that would change the course of Fred’s life, both professionally and personally.
It was Ms. Fitzgerald, impressed by Fred’s logic and disciplined thinking, who encouraged him to enroll at Brooklyn Law School. It was a perfect career- changing match-a gifted student, Fred passed the bar examination on his first shot in 1987. Of equal significance, Ethel introduced Fred – hitherto a dyed- in-the – wool New York City boy- to the pleasures and attractions of upstate New York. Moving there in the late 1990’s, Fred was to work and reside there for the rest of his life.
Law degree in hand, Fred embarked on the next stage of his professional and personal journey. Beginning with a stint in the NYS Attorney Generals Offfice in Manhattan in 1990, where he formed an enduring friendship with his colleague Diana Zalph, Fred transferred to the AG’s upstate office, and fulfilled a life-long dream to purchase a home of his own in Fultonville, NY, ( Fred later moved to another home in East Greenbush, an area he found idyllic, and he implored his old NYC friends to do the same.).
It seemed that Fred had found his Eden upstate, and spent the rest of his life exploring the highways and byways of his new home, meeting new people and never stopped singing its praises. It was also during this new chapter in his life that Fred began one of the most significant and loving relationships with his longtime companion, Patricia ( Patti) Manigault.
Several other important events also occurred during this time; Fred made many new friends in the AG’s office, including David Needleman and Conrad Langley. After his retirement, Fred began his association with Hudson Vallley Community College, where he taught math and formed a close friendship [ with Ken Niccoli, a multi-talented man whom Fred considered a latter- day Renaissance man.
As the poet William Wordsworth famously said, “The child is the father of the man,” and indeed many of Fred’s strongest enthusiasms as an adult appeared early in life. His lifelong love of trains showed itself in his model train sets (Lionel and P F Flyer), the tracks of which he would elaborately snake throughout the Wildman apartment, and where his family- especially hid dad, Oscar, a very large man-would lumber around. (When Oscar walked nearby, you knew it!).
Fred’s love of trains was so intense that he sometimes felt he would have been happier as a NYC subway motorman rather than as a lawyer.
Probably related to Fred’s love of trains, he also delighted in driving places, and had amazing mental recall of routes, streets and landmarks. Indeed, as many of his friends know, Fred possessed a veritable GPS system in his head years before the actual one was created.
Another trait of Fred’s that appeared early in life was his love of cats. All the strays gathered in the alleys and backyards behind the Wildman’s apartment building on Union Street for their daily meal. It was a habit that Fred was to maintain up to the end of his life.
Finally, what could one say about Fred’s almost religious devotion to the “game “of money, both in the higher reaches of investing as well as in the more mundane world of daily necessities such as groceries and tires. He was a connoisseur of supermarkets, of various industries such as dairy, heating oil and especially the credit industry. (Friends of Fred, when returning from a trip, always made sure to note the local gasoline prices for him). For Fred the game of consumer purchases was a blood sport, in which he ingeniously used head-spinning discounts, cashbacks, credit card promotions, coupons, special sales, online offers, and serendipitous visits to jobber stores to make clever purchases.. To this day, his canny purchases are scattered in many of his friends’ homes (including the laptop on which this remembrance is being composed). These items are a fitting tribute to our memories of Fred.
Fred is survived by his loving companion of 19 years, Patricia ( Patti) Manigault.He was predeceased by his parents, Oscar and Lily, and a brother, Rex.
Graveside services will be held at the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, NY on Thursday December 20, 2018 at 1pm.