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Frederick Friebele Dupree Jr

Frederick Friebele Dupree Jr., of Cambridge, MA, and Honolulu, HI, a Cambridge-based real estate developer, died in Honolulu on May 31, 2014.

Born on August 22, 1931, in Santa Monica, CA, he was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Friebele Dupree Sr. (Caroline Henderson). Fred’s father was a psychiatrist who was educated at Louisiana State University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Tennessee. Fred’s father, like his grandfather, was imbued with a strong sense of public service. He cut back his large private practice to become the clinical director of a Tennessee state psychiatric hospital. His mother, who grew up in early 1900s Florida, resisted the confines of traditional Southern society and was a supporter of many then unpopular liberal causes. She graduated from the Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University) and received a master’s degree in sociology from Columbia University. She was the daughter of Thomas N. Henderson, who was a prominent Tampa businessman and an early investor in Coca-Cola. He also held many municipal offices in Tampa, including president of the city council and mayor.


Fred was descended from a French Huguenot family that fled France for Virginia following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. They were planters and migrated south, eventually settling in Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Fred’s paternal grandfather, James William Dupree, was a noted physician who did extensive research on mosquito transmission of yellow fever, and whose work is chronicled in Evelyn Mitchell’s Mosquito Life. The mosquito species Aedes (Ochlerotatus) dupreei was named after him. He was also surgeon general of Louisiana and during the Civil War was the chief surgeon of the Army of Western Tennessee. Fred was also related to the renowned patriot-pirate Sterling Dupree, who attacked Spanish forts along the Pascagoula River and helped liberate western Florida from the Spanish in the early 1800s.


As a child, Fred lived in Westwood, CA, and Tampa, FL, until the family settled in Knoxville, TN, in 1943. Fred’s house was set deep in the country outside Knoxville, surrounded by fields and an old Civil War cemetery that dissolved into woods. He often joked that his childhood in Knoxville was like a page pulled from Tom Sawyer. Life was a bit “wild and woolly” by today’s standards as the country around Knoxville was quite rustic in the 1940s. There was swimming, water skiing, fishing, boating and camping along the Tennessee River and its tributaries. There were lots of dogs, rifles, shotguns and football games in the cemetery behind his house. Although Knoxville was a segregated town, the games usually included players from the neighboring black community, a practice unheard of at the time.


It is a testament to his mother’s extraordinary tolerance that, among her oak trees, azaleas and rhododendrons, the backyard featured antique cars on blocks and Indian motorcycles, all in various states of disrepair but awaiting restoration. Fred’s most beloved project was a 1940 Ford coupe, known as “Moonshine”, with an engine he completely rebuilt to bootlegger specifications. The car could outrun anything on the road, which he demonstrated on many occasions. Unfortunately, the car was prone to overheating, especially on the steep passes over the Great Smoky Mountains, and Fred soon learned to carry enormous jugs of water to cool down the motor.


Fred graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in electrical engineering. He was soon drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was stationed at a Nike missile site near Fort Meade, MD. Although intended to defend the capital against Soviet bomber attack, the site appeared ineffective. According to Fred, the missile domes were held in place by air pressure and frequently the compressors would malfunction and the domes would collapse. Fortunately, Fred liked to say, the Soviets did not attack.


After leaving the Army, he worked for several years for Royal McBee, traveling across the U.S. to sell and install a revolutionary new technology: the digital computer. Around this time, he began his lifelong collaboration with his brother, Tom, on real estate development. Over 50 years, the brothers built, owned and managed commercial and residential buildings in Florida, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, DC.


Although he grew up in a small Southern town, Fred loved traveling to faraway places. While still in high school, he toured Europe by bicycle and visited Hawaii, where he joined the crew of a sailboat bound for Tahiti. Returning from one of these trips, he arrived home with only 50 cents left in his pocket. These early trips instilled a lifelong love of travel. Cycling by an old stave church in Roldal, Norway, he decided he’d like to get married there and, on June 16, 1970, he did, marrying Sunny Acuff Seiler, a trial attorney who worked for the Massachusetts attorney general. They honeymooned cruising through the fjords from Stavanger to Kirkenes.


Fred enjoyed fjords on all continents, not just in Norway. On his first sailing trip Down East to Mt. Desert Island, Maine, he sailed up Somes Sound, the only natural fjord on the East Coast. He fell in love with the island and Acadia National Park and shortly thereafter purchased the summer cottage Wasgat Cove from Philadelphians Wharton and Louise Elkins Sinkler. He passed his sailing knowledge on to his children and the family went cruising Down East annually along the rocky coast of Maine and Nova Scotia. During these trips he taught them to troubleshoot the hazards of lobster pots, narrow channels, bad shellfish and extreme Canadian tides.


He continued his interest in international travel when the family took two sabbatical years in London, where his children attended Hill House School, returning home with British accents. From their home base in London, the family traveled to ski in Gstaad, Switzerland, hike the hills in the south of France and walk among the pyramids of Egypt. One highlight of Fred’s international adventures was skydiving for the first time on his 70th birthday in New Zealand.


Fred loved finding new places to visit and he owned houses in Cambridge, MA; Stowe, VT; Northeast Harbor, ME; Honolulu and London. He belonged to The Country Club in Brookline, MA; the Somerset Club in Boston; the Pot & Kettle Club in Bar Harbor, ME; the Harbor Club in Seal Harbor, ME; and the Outrigger Canoe Club, The Pacific Club and the Waikiki Yacht Club in Honolulu.


Fred is survived by Mrs. Dupree (Sunny A. Seiler); his three children, Frederick Aubin Seiler Dupree of London, Lila Lancaster Seiler Dupree of Los Angeles, and Andrew Chapin Seiler Dupree of New York; as well as his brother Thomas Henderson Dupree Sr. of Cambridge. A private inurnment was held at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge on August 29, 2014.

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