EAST WORCESTER – Frederick Golja, 98, a lifelong farmer and community leader, passed away on May 8, 2020.
He was born in East Worcester on November 25, 1921, the fifth of John and Josephine (Kavcic) Golja’s six children. He grew up attending the one room school house on Algerine Hill and working the family farm, where he honed the skills and appreciation of agricultural science that formed the foundation of his own successful farming career.
In 1950, at St. Brigid’s Church in Brooklyn, Fred married Johanna Alex, a city girl who summered upstate. Their shared Slovenian heritage united them in a love of music and dancing that echoed through their long and happy life together. In 1955, Fred and Jennie moved from the original Golja homestead to the farm on Brighton Road, where, working together, they raised four children and stewarded a productive herd of registered Holsteins.
Fred worked from dawn to dark on the farm, but still made time to serve his community as a director of the local Eastern AI Cooperative, a member of the Otsego County Cooperative Extension, and the Worcester town assessor from 1966 – 1979. He belonged, for more than 80 years, to the local chapter of the Slovene National Benefit Association (SNPJ), which was cofounded by his father in 1917.
When he finally retired, Fred transferred the family business to his son, Gary, but he remained active on the farm, pitching in wherever he was needed, offering advice whenever he thought it was needed, monitoring the sweet corn stand from his seat on the front porch, and reading avidly about emerging technology and farming techniques.
We will miss Fred/Dad/Pop Pop/Grandpa/Super Pa Pa for his stories and reminiscences that gave us a vivid, authentic link to our community’s history. We will miss him for his wisdom and deep, practical knowledge of how things work and how to fix them (even when we couldn’t grasp his cryptic instructions for fixing them ourselves). We will miss his graceful dances with Mom. And we will miss his spare way with words, which made his gestures of approval and affection all the more meaningful. But we are comforted by his enduring confidence in us, and his conviction that all of his children, and their children in turn, could accomplish anything through the application of the same hard work and perseverance that shaped Fred’s life.
Fred is survived by his children, Karen Hermanowski of Worcester, Fred and Mary Beth Golja of Madison, Connecticut, Gary and Barb Golja of Worcester and JoAnn and Bill Fredette of Gilbertsville; his grandchildren, Rachel and Mike Elliott, Colleen Golja and William, Michael and Sebastian Fredette; and by great granddaughter, Molly Johanna Elliott. He is also survived by his sister, Sophie LaPorte of Florida and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Jennie, his son-in-law, Robert Hermanowski, brothers John and Frank, and sisters Albina and Justine.
A celebration of Fred’s life, and interment at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Worcester will be held at a later date.
Donations in his memory to the Worcester Emergency Squad, PO Box 191, Worcester, NY or the Worcester Fire Department, PO Box 430, Worcester, NY 12197, are welcome.
To sign the online guestbook, visit the website of Heller & Skinner Funeral Home, 155 Main St., Worcester, www.hellerskinnerfh.com