Fred Marwig lived through the Great Depression and served in World War II, then raised eight children with his wife. Today, at 93, Fred swims three times a week, drives a motor scooter around the neighborhood, and plays poker, dominoes and cribbage with his friends at SilverCreek on Main in Maple Grove. He also fishes, but only in the summer. “None of that ice fishing for me,” says Fred.
As a kid growing up in Chicago, Fred watched his father lose several butcher shops during the Depression. Then, one week after he turned 18, Fred joined the U.S. Army. He served for four years in a tank battalion during World War II, and eventually was sent to fight on the outskirts of Berlin.
“I was a kid when I was in fighting,” says Fred. “After I got back, I had about eight years of college study coming from the government and I couldn’t study – my nerves were shot.”
Soon, Fred married a “wonderful woman” he had known since grammar school and worked as an electrician to support his family in Dundee, Ill. “I always had two or three jobs,” Fred remembers. “If you have eight kids, you do things. I never minded a bit. I had ability.”
Seventy-five years after he served with them, Fred keeps in touch with the surviving members of his battalion. “We kept track of each other and we’d meet every year someplace else. There’s three of us left. We call each other.” The VA also helped him connect with other local veterans. “There’s an unwritten law – it’s a closeness. If a guy says he’s a veteran, he’s a good friend that’s about what it boils down to.”
Four years ago, Fred’s beloved wife of more than sixty years passed away. “I’m mad at her because I was supposed to die first,” says Fred. “But I get along just fine.” Two of Fred’s sons have also passed away. Fred says moving into a great senior living community here in Minnesota has helped him move forward.
A challenging part of getting older is putting up with yourself, Fred says. He can’t do everything he used to do as an active younger man. “I learn to live with it. It helps to have friends in this retirement home, and a swimming pool and a nice apartment and meals when I want them. I’m a very happy man.”
Fred feels deeply connected to his family. He lives near two of his daughters, and when his other kids can’t visit in person because they live out of state, he talks with them over Skype. “My kids turned out real well,” Fred remarks. “That was the greatest thing I ever did. I was fortunate. They must have all taken after their mother.”
Fred looks forward to his grandson Jack’s wedding this summer, where he will see his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all in one place. “I don’t worry about anything,” says Fred. “I’ve got wonderful children, a wonderful place to stay, I’ve still got my marbles and I can still do things. I have aches and pains and all that crap, but I get around and that’s the way it is.
“I never had it so good.”