Fred Hebert, Jr., of Groves, Texas passed away on Monday, November 28, 2022, at his residence in Groves with his loving family by his side.
Fred Hebert, Jr., was born on February 11, 1938, at home in a French speaking community in Kaplan, Louisiana, the firstborn of Fred Hebert, Sr. and Louise Bourque Hebert.
When Fred was around 5, during WW II, the family moved to Rose Pine, just north of DeRidder, LA. During that period Fred observed gliders flying over in preparation for the Normandy invasion. He also remembers a giant tank battalion driving by and taking what seemed like hours moving to transport for the invasion. The family then moved to DeRidder in a government housing project. This was the first place the family had electricity, running water, a water heater, indoor plumbing and their first phone because his dad had to have one working for the fire department at Camp Polk (later Fort Polk); there Fred started school.
During Fred’s third grade year the family made the big move to Port Arthur, Texas where the jobs where reputed to be prevalent. Fred related that they thought they moved to a great metropolis because when passing over the Rainbow Bridge at night all the chemical plant lights were lit up.
The moved to El Vista which was in Port Acres where they were downgraded to a house without indoor plumbing nor running water. Their water was obtained from a rooftop cistern. After a year they moved to Lakeview which was next to Port Arthur where his father was Fire Chief of the volunteer fire department. When Fred was in 6th grade he told his friend, Dwain Hardin that his father was at Gulf Oil looking for a job. Dwain asked if he talked to his dad who did all the hiring. With a negative response, he and Dwain talked to Mr. Hardin (on a Sunday). Mr. Hardin told Fred to tell his dad go out to the Plant the next morning and talk to him and he would see what he could do. Fred’s dad was hired that day and worked for Gulf for 37 years as an operator until retirement.
Fred went to St. Mary’s school the last half of the third grade and the fourth grade. After that he went to Robert E. Lee School, then Woodrow Wilson Junior High and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1956.
Fred stated his paper route at age 10. The family had to borrow the money for the required bond. Fred was so appalled at the repayment amount that he made the life changing decision to never borrow money again which he stuck to which made a huge difference in his life.
When he dropped the afternoon paper route while in the 8th grade, he went to work after school with Mr. Piggott at Southern Electric Tool Works. This proved to be life changing as there Fred learned rewiring electrical motors, welding, machine work (operating Lathes), built boat trailers, did foundry work, built telescopes, including grinding lenses, learning precise measuring. He did his first instrument job with them for Port Arthur Drainage District adjusting level controls for the sewer by the pump house next to the seawall. He continued this after school job until he finished high school.
In the 11th grade, Fred signed up with the Marine Reserves. After the 11th grade he went to Coronado, California for summer camp amphibious training. After graduation, he went to San Diego for active duty reserves boot camp.
Returning to Port Arthur he found a job with Sabine Towing and Transportation. His first job with them was on a tanker ship then changed to a tug boat.
During the Thanksgiving Holidays he went to Jefferson Chemical and was hired but was laid off a month later. Then he went to the Air Force, took the aptitude test and was only one out of 100 who passed. However, while he was waiting to hear from them, Jefferson Chemical called him back and he accepted the job there in 1959. This turned into a permanent job which lasted until his retirement. When the Air Force called he turned them down. He worked his way up and eventually ended up in the instrument department all the knowledge he had gleaned working at the tool works after school paid off well he practically had his pick. As he tells it, he looked around at the guys building scaffolds, swinging giant wrenches and etc., knowing it never got any easier as you aged. The instrument guys went around with little screwdrivers in their chest pocket, and as he loved problem solving, he decided that was where he wanted to be. He went to Port Arthur College, took an electronics course and was transferred to the instrument department where he stayed the rest of his long career with Jefferson Chemical.
Fred married in 1967 which ended a short time later, but happily produced his loving daughter, Freda. Fred raised his daughter alone after that from the time she was 9 months old. He saved for and built his present home without debt completing all the building needed with the exception of the framing, roofing, cabinets and carpet.
Fred married Judy in 1997 and they remained married until his death. Fred loved antique cars, hunting, sailing, fishing and trading in the stock market, a skill he learned as he traded his Texaco stock during his working career. He regularly attended First Baptist Church in Groves with Judy. He was known for his sense of humor keeping his friends smiling. He loved to tell jokes and was fun to be around. In his last years Fred enjoyed taking cruises and being out on the water and staying in touch with his long-time friends. He was especially proud of his granddaughter Cassie and his great-granddaughter Raelyn.
Survivors include his wife of twenty-five years, Judy Delaune Hebert of Groves; granddaughter, Cassie Car Freeman and her husband Bradley of Bridge City; great granddaughter, Raelyn Freeman of Bridge City; step grandchildren, Faith Alexandria Baldwin and Trey Baldwin of Huntsville, Texas and Darrien Lawrence of Pierre, South Dakota; step-daughters, Christen Hamberlin-Brown and her husband Steven of Austin, Texas and Carrie Faith Baldwin of Pierre, South Dakota; sister, Patricia Gillespie and her husband Hugh of Groesbeck, Texas; brother-in-law, Dane Umphrey of LaBelle, Texas; numerous nieces and nephews.
Fred was preceded in death by his daughter, Freda Nichols, sisters, Linda Umphrey and Barbara Schoenberg; brother, Gerald Hebert; parents, Fred and Louise Hebert, Sr.
A visitation will take place from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. Friday, December 2, 2022, at Melancon Funeral Home in Nederland, Texas. Funeral Services will immediately follow at 2:00 p.m. Friday at Melancon Funeral Home with burial to follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches, Texas.
Serving as Pallbearers will be Lee Brown, Dale Umphrey, Chad Umphrey, Randy Brim, Brad Gillespie and Trey Baldwin.