Thursday, September 09, 2010

IN MEMORIAM: Fred Pfening


Frederic Denver Pfening, Jr. passed away on September 6, 2010, at the age of 85. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Lelia B. Pfening; two sons, Frederic III (Janet), and Timothy (Suzi); three grandchildren, Victoria Pfening Smith, Lesley Pfening, and Frederic Pfening IV; and one great-grandchild, Madeline Smith. He will be missed by all.

A life-long resident of Columbus, he attended Upper Arlington High School where he was on the swimming team and had a column in the school newspaper. His summer job in 1941 was with the Barr Bros. Circus and in 1942 with Ringling Bros. After graduating in 1943, he served in the United States Army.

He attended The Ohio State University from 1944 to 1948. While a student, he was a cheerleader, a member of Bucket and Dipper; and editor of the Sundial, the college humor magazine. In his spare time he paid his way through school as a photographer at various campus social events. In 1948 he joined the Fred D. Pfening Company, a manufacturer of equipment for the wholesale baking industry, founded by his father in 1919. He was President of the company from 1954 until 1989, after which he became Board Chairman.

He was also President of four other companies, the most interesting of which was the Fred J. Mack Circus which he operated in 1955. He served on many non-profit boards including, COSI, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Friends of The Ohio State University Libraries, the Riverside Hospital Foundation, the Circus World Museum, the Crippled Childrens’ Society, and the Upper Arlington Arts Council. He was a lifetime member of First Community Church.

He was the recipient of many honors. The two that meant the most to him were election to the Columbus Business Hall of Fame, and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers’ Association. He was a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Chief Executives Forum, the Columbus Rotary Club, the Columbus Club, Scioto Country Club, The Ohio State President’s Club, the American Society of Baking, the Columbus Food and Wine Society, and Chaine des Rotisseurs, among others.

He was able to drive until 2 months before he passed. The circus was his passion. He was a member of the Circus Historical Society for close to 70 years, he was President of the organization from 1958 to 1963, and later served on its Board of Trustees. He was editor of Bandwagon, the journal of the Circus Historical Society, from 1961 until his death, and was internationally recognized as an expert on the circus. He counted many circus professionals among his friends.

Visitation will be at the Schoedinger Northwest Chapel, 1740 Zollinger Road, Columbus, Ohio 43221 on Wednesday, September 15, from 4:00 to 8:00 p. m. A memorial service will be held at First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43212 on Thursday, September 16 at 11:00 a. m. Dr. Richard Wing officiating. Flowers may be ordered through Evans Floral, 1-800-607-8575. Contributions may be made to the Circus World Museum, 550 Water Street, Baraboo, Wisconsin 53913, and to COSI Columbus attn: Development Department 333 West Broad Street Columbus, OH 43215.

Please visit to extend condolences and share memories.

1 comment:

David Carlyon said...

Clowns -- Fred Pfening was a major figure in circus over the past 50 years. That 6th paragraph only hints at his great influence, in the circus history magazine BANDWAGON, his support of Circus World Museum, his widespread friends in circus, and his deep knowledge of it. Among other circus folks, clowns owe him a debt of gratitude for his contributions, and his passion.