Niskayuna - Frederick John Clas, 99, resident of Niskayuna, formerly of Delmar, died peacefully on Saturday, 11 December 2021 at Shaker Place.
Fred had a distinguished career. After graduation from Albany High School and an apprenticeship at Watervliet Arsenal, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed in the Middle East Command in Egypt. Upon returning to Watervliet Arsenal, he was responsible for many innovations. One of his many innovations was the introduction of carbide tooling to milling. This process increased production 500 to 1000%, revolutionizing milling worldwide throughout government and private industry. In 1963 he was the first civilian to be appointed the Arsenal’s Director of Operations. He was known respectfully as “Mr. Arsenal”.
Fred was awarded many honors throughout the world. The one he was most proud of was awarded in 2015, 30 years after he retired in 1985. He was honored by 4-star General Dennis Via, US Army Commander with one of their highest awards, the induction into the US Army Materiel Command Hall of Fame. This award is given in recognition of truly significant achievements and contributions to the United States Army Materiel Command and the United States Army.
Fred served his community. He was on the Pioneer Savings Bank board for twenty-five years, president of the Hudson Valley Council of Churches, chairman of United Way, and was a member of a NYS advisory board for urban planning and development.
Fred was born on June 8,1922 in the German neighborhood, “Dutch Hollow”, in the South End of Albany. He cherished his boyhood, often recalling the freedom children enjoyed in the days when three generations lived within a few blocks of each other. The family gatherings - Sunday picnics at White Sulphur Springs in Berne, vacations at Saratoga and Cossayuna Lakes, holiday traditions - all provided a seemingly endless store of memories. One of his proudest memories was of his paper route. Fred and his brother would rise at 5 AM and set out on their bicycles to do a lengthy route in the Whitehall Road neighborhood. They kept this commitment until they were in high school, banking all they earned. When the family car broke down, they were proud to be able to surprise their parents with a replacement.
Fred was a perfectionist. His children remember well his insistence on careful placement of the tinsel on the Christmas tree and the meticulous packing of the car for vacations. It was expected that shoes be polished on Saturday for church. Everyone had new outfits for Easter, Christmas, and the first day of school. He could fix anything and shared those skills with his eldest grandson.
Fred was disciplined. He observed strict routines and kept detailed, handwritten records, documenting even social phone calls with his children. For years he took night classes at Siena and RPI, studying late into the night at the dining room table. After retirement, he took great pride in his thorough exercise routine which he loved to demonstrate.
Fred could relax. He fished, hunted, and golfed with his brothers and lifelong friends. They played cards at the kitchen table on Saturday nights, taking time out to watch Sid Caesar skits on Your Show of Shows. They taught all the kids to swim and how to fish, which included collecting night crawlers at Albany Muni golf course. Other simple fun times were Sunday rides that included ice cream, playing five hundred rummy, and going to Dyers for funny books.
Fred and his wife Marion enjoyed traveling, vacationing, and visiting distant family. After retirement they enjoyed many winters in Myrtle Beach. Fred was proud of their lovely gardens and he and Marion took meticulous care of them.
Fred was predeceased by his parents, Henry W. Clas and Fredericka Schenck Clas, his brothers, Henry and Paul Clas, and his former wife, Dorothy Heimburge Clas.
He is survived by his loving wife of forty-two years, Marion S. Farrow Clas.
He leaves his children, Karen Clas Beck of Delmar, Frederick Clas of Columbia SC, and Janet Clas of West Linn OR. He also leaves stepchildren: David Neary (Andrena), Angela Busacco (Mark), James Neary (Diane), and Pastor Wesley Neary (Denise); four grandchildren, Jonathan Beck, Justin Butler, Emily Clas Stromquist (Blake) and Tyler Clas; six step grandchildren, Leah Neary, Erica Neary Cassell (Cory), Zoë Busacco, Luke Busacco, Anna Neary and Wesley Neary, five great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
The family thanks the staff at Shaker Place for the kind and attentive care they gave Fred in his final days.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Fred’s family on Friday morning from 10:00 am to 12 noon at Cannon Funeral Home, 2020 Central Ave., Colonie. Funeral services will commence at 12:00 at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Albany Rural Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association NENY Chapter, 4 Pine West Plaza #405, Albany, NY 12205 (alz.org) or the Shriners Children Hospital 516 Crew Street, Springfield, MA 01104.