Frederick Bethmann



Frederick Anthony Bethmann, Sr., 97, Belle, passed away Thursday, May 2, 2024 at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia.

He was born June 10, 1926, the seventh of 10 children of the late Theodore and Julia (Kirchner) Bethmann on the family farm near St. Peters.

As a child, he attended All Saints Catholic School in St. Peters and was a 1944 graduate of St. Peters High School in St. Charles.

Fred proudly served his country in the U.S. Army during WWII, being stationed in the Philippines during the final push by General MacArthur’s troops to gain control of the islands. From there, he was sent to Japan, where his ship joined several others anchored in Tokyo Bay during General MacArthur’s brief words signaling Japan’s surrender. The U.S. troops immediately began clean-up of Tokyo and Fred was assigned duty at Sugamo Prison until his honorable discharge in November of 1946.

Although Sgt Bethmann was offered a commission if he would remain in Japan, he declined, stating “There’s a white-haired old man back home that needs me.” After seeing starving children during his time in the South Pacific, feeding the world was foremost in Fred’s mind and he knew his dad needed his help on the farm.

Upon his return to St. Peters, he resumed work on the farm and became involved with Post #313 of the American Legion. One of the patriotic acts of the Legion post was to provide memorial services at local cemeteries on Memorial Day. After one such service, Fred became reacquainted with Virginia Ell who had also attended All Saints School. The two were united in marriage Oct. 20, 1948 and shared over 66 years together, until Virginia’s passing June 23, 2015.

As a young husband and father to a growing family, Fred worked on the farm and always had a second job. He was a jack-of-all trades, doing carpentry, delivering propane, laying carpet and linoleum, digging graves and selling Case farm equipment. In 1963, while continuing to farm, Fred began full-time employment at McDonnell Douglass Corp. (now Boeing) in St. Louis. Fred worked as a machinist and was involved in the manufacture of both the Mercury and Gemini space capsules, the first spacecraft to take humans into space. Later, he helped construct parts for the F4 and F15 fighter jets as well as commercial and passenger planes.

In 1977, Fred and Virginia sold their home and property in St. Peters and purchased a farm in Belle. Along with oldest son, Ted, the three began raising crops, hogs, and Black Angus cattle. They later began operating a feed, seed, and fertilizer business under the name Bethmann Farms, which Ted still operates with the help of his brother, Fred, Jr.

Telling stories of farming in ‘the old days” and his time in the Army, were some of Fred’s greatest joys. Some wondered, as he aged, if he was making up anything in these stories. The answer is no; Fred’s mind was sharp and during quiet times, his memory was still rolling on. He was proud of his military service and his farm, but family was the most precious thing in his life.

Due to his failing health, Fred had been a resident of Frene Valley of Owensville Nursing home. Then moved to the Missouri Veterans home-St. James. Our thanks to the kind and caring staff of both of these wonderful facilities. We would also like to thank the caring and patient nurses and doctors at the VA Hospital who have ministered to dad over the past few years, especially at the end.

In addition to being a member of the American Legion Post 313 in St. Peters, Fred was proud to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post 3410 in Belle. He was also a devout member of St.  Alexander Catholic Church in Belle, a past member of Sacred Heart Parish in Rich Fountain, and a supporter of the annual Belle Fair.

Fred was preceded in death by wife, Virginia; parents, Theodore and Julia; son, Donald;  and extended family.

Those left to carry on Fred’s legacy are sons, Theodore (Ted) and Frederick Jr. (Fred) of Belle; daughters Emily Jones and husband Bill of Middletown, Joan Trankler and husband Larry of St. Peters and Rebecca (Becky) Bethmann of Jefferson City; grandchildren,  Sandy and Don Bethmann; Fred Bethmann, III and wife Casey, Lauren Oetting and husband Brock, Bill Jones, Jr., Mandy Jones and friend Bert Atzlinger, Amy Ford and husband Jon, Mark (Junco), Keith and Jeremy Trankler, Julie Slimp, Ann Kistner and husband Steve and Katie and Brad Iffrig; great-grandchildren, Beth White, Makenzie, Schyler, Brooklyn and Fred IV Bethmann, Allie Oetting, Marissa and Will Jones, Kaina, Abe, Trenton, Luke and Alex Trankler, Chloe Slimp, Hunter and Calvin Kistner; bonus daughter, Linda Neuner;  step-great-grandchildren, Jordon Oetting and Rylie Crull; sister, Rita Peiper; brother-in-law, Eugene Ell; and numerous nieces, nephews and their families, as well as friends too numerous to count.

Mass of Christian Burial was held May 6, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rich Fountain with Fr. William Debo officiating. Interment was in the church cemetery with full military honors.

Memorial contributions suggested to Sacred Heart School in Rich Fountain, St. Alexander Catholic Church in Belle or for Masses in Fred’s name. 

Arrangements entrusted to Sassmann’s Chapel in Belle.