Milton J. Freitas: A Quiet Man, but his Smile and Laugh Lit Up a Room

This section includes both obituaries and memories. Honoring our loved ones who have died does not end immediately after their passing. We recognize that… so we’re extending our obituary section to include individuals who may have left a long time ago. If you want to remember someone who is gone, either recently or longer ago, please send a photo and a few sentences to mskymkemp@gmail.com.

Milton J. Freitas

Milton J. Freitas 1927-2018

Our Milton made his transition on December 4, 2018, surrounded by loved ones in Fortuna, CA. Milt lived with Parkinson’s for over 13 years before succumbing at age 91. Milt was born to Manuel and Maria De Freitas in New Bedford, MA. In 1937, the family came west to Humboldt County where Manuel’s sister, Herminia Lorenzo, lived in Ferndale. They lived with the Lorenzo family and helped out on the dairy. Soon after, they moved to Arcata to live with the Rocha family. When Milt was 11, his mother passed away. Several years later, his father remarried, and Milt gained four step-siblings.

Milt loved cars, and his ultimate dream was to be part of an Indy 500 pit crew. While in high school, he started working for Hughes Chevrolet. After graduating from Fortuna High, he served in the U.S. Army towards the end of World War II and again during the Korean War. After the service, he resumed work at Chevrolet. He started teaching auto mechanics at Fortuna High in 1966 and later taught at College of the Redwoods until retiring in 1993. Milt was very involved in the American Legion, where he served as District Commander. He was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus, both local and the Fourth Degree, where he served as Faithful Navigator.

Milt could build and fix anything, and he spent many happy hours in his garage tinkering. He was a quiet man, but his smile and laugh lit up a room, and when he dropped a joke, it was always a great one. He loved dancing and big band jazz. He loved to travel, and spent a month in the Azores and Portugal with his family.

Milt married his wife, Betty Gallego, in 1966. In 1968, the love of their life, Julie, was born. We had a wonderful life together. Milt was a great husband, and as Julie often told him, “You are the best dad in the world,” which he was until the very end. We will miss Milt forever, but he left us with wonderful memories.

Milt was predeceased by his parents Manuel and Maria De Freitas, brother Urban, in-laws Dan and Luisa Gallego, brothers-in-law Joe Gallego and Charlie Rodriguez, and sisters-in-law Ella Rodriguez and Velma VanderMeulen. He is survived by his wife Betty; daughter Julie Freitas and daughter-in-law Alison Book; sister-in-law Nora Reed; brothers-in-law Danny Gallego (Patty) and Ken VanderMeulen; nephews Larry Andersen (Lois), Ken VanderMeulen Jr. (Lisa), Jeremy Gallego (Lu), and Paul Rodriguez; nieces Sandra Haskin (John), Joyce Smith (Martin), Terry Ramirez (George), Karen Gascon, and Kelly Gallego; and many great- and great-great-nieces and nephews.

Rosary will be held on January 4 at 7pm at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fortuna. A Mass of Christian Burial will be on January 5 at 10am at St. Joseph’s with Reverend Michael Cloney presiding.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105-1942, or the Pantry Shelf, 2312 Newburg Rd. Fortuna, CA 95540.

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