FRED MULLIS KNOWN FOR WARMTH, MORALITY – LAST OF THE TECH HIGH GRADS MAINTAINED OLD SCHOOL CONTACTS
He was the strong, silent type – but not in the Hollywood image those words bring to mind. He had a quiet strength and when you got to know him, then the words would come.
Fred Mullis of Atlanta, formerly of Charlotte, died June 20 at Presbyterian Hospital of heart and lung ailments. He was 68 and retired as sales manager from TRW auto parts company in Atlanta in 1991.Fred, a Monroe native, came to Charlotte when he was 6 and graduated from Tech High School in its final 1954 graduating class. Although he lived in Atlanta, he attended the monthly Tech High Lunch Bunch meetings. He and wife Betty Jo timed visits with their parents here each month to coincide with the luncheons.
They were in Charlotte in June for the class' 50th reunion. Fred, who also suffered from emphysema, welcomed seeing his old friends. He fell ill and by Wednesday was hospitalized at Presbyterian Hospital, where he died.
`I knew he was the one'
Fred and Betty Jo were high school sweethearts who dated, off and on, for 15 years. He spent two years in the Army, then worked awhile in Indianapolis. "Fred was always a very settled person," Betty Jo said. "I wasn't ready, I'd seen so many not work out and I wanted it to be forever. I knew he was the one when I was ready." She was 30 when they married in 1965, and their "forever" lasted for 39 years.
"He was a very quiet, simple person," Betty Jo said. "He was so knowledgeable but did not flaunt what he knew. He was well read and intelligent. I told our daughter that I'd known him 50 years and never heard him say a slang word. He was such a highly moral person, did not drink and was a family man."
Said friend Ruth Threat, "Fred was a kind, warm, gentle, loving person. He played football at Tech High School with (the late Rev.) Grady Fault and others."
Daughter Kristie was an only child and she appreciated her father's good advice. "He was always there, very strong and quiet," she said. "When he said something, he had something to say – he didn't just chatter." If she did something he didn't like, he'd tell her but, "He let me learn and do things on my own. He would tell me, not in a harsh way, `I care about you; you think about what you're doing.' I always knew he had good advice for me."
She also appreciated his gentle golf lessons. "That's the thing I really enjoy remembering," she said. "We played together when I was in college; it was father-daughter time, being outside doing fun things together."
Fred Mullis was the kind of man who would make a prospective son-in-law nervous, said Todd Sharp. "His daughter asked me to dinner," said Todd. "It was fun, her mom cooked a great meal and Fred didn't say much of anything.
"He was very intelligent, soft spoken and very opinionated, but it was well thought out," Todd said. "He was polite until we talked about travel, then he kind of opened up. He was an armchair tourist."
Most of Fred's touring was done through his 30-year subscription to National Geographic. "He has every one of them," Kristie said. She will continue the subscription for 7-month-old daughter, Amelia.
Fred and Betty Jo have close ties to Charlotte, and she feels that it was fate, of sorts, that he died here. "We were going to be buried in Charlotte anyway," she said.
Fate has a way of working things out, does it not?
Paper: Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
Title: FRED MULLIS KNOWN FOR WARMTH, MORALITY – LAST OF THE TECH HIGH GRADS MAINTAINED OLD SCHOOL CONTACTS
Author: GERRY HOSTETLER
Date: July 7, 2004