James O. Frendewey
IRON MOUNTAIN — James O. Frendewey, local businessman and civic leader, died on April 7, 2021, at Florence Health Services, while recuperating from a recent fall. He was 97 years old, 26 days from his 98th birthday. He was a resident of Evergreen Assisted Living in Kingsford and had been a longtime resident of Iron Mountain.
Frendewey’s contributions to the civic life of the area included his membership in the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Lions Club, for which he served as president. He was also elected district governor of the Lions for the Upper Peninsula and was elected International Director. Frendewey was also active in the Industrial Development Corporation, which promoted the recruitment and support of local industrial businesses. He was a member of the St. Mary and St. Joseph parish and served on the school board for its school. Frendewey was a longtime member of Pine Grove Country Club.
James Orville Frendewey was born in Detroit on May 3, 1923. His parents gave him the middle name Orville to honor the pioneering aviator, a decision that would be prescient. Frendewey attended public schools in Detroit, including Cass Tech, and graduated from Hazel Park High School. After high school, Frendewey enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was accepted for flight officers training and became a U.S. Marine Corps torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific theater of World War II. His first action was anti-submarine patrol during the battle of Iwo Jima.
After the war, Frendewey took advantage of the G.I. Bill to attend Michigan Technological University in Houghton, where he graduated in 1949 with a degree in mining engineering. It was there that he met and married his wife, Rose Monticello of Franklin Mine (deceased 2002).
After graduation, Frendewey took positions in copper mining operations in Kellogg, Idaho, and Bisbee, Arizona, where his sons, James, Jr. and David were born. He later moved to a mining company on the Minnesota Mesabi Iron Range. The family settled in Hibbing, where his daughter, Pamela and son, Craig were born. He took a position with Abe Mathews Engineering Company in its sales division, Northern Mining Equipment Company. In 1960, he established a branch office in Iron Mountain. Frendewey bought out the Iron Mountain branch and ran it as the independent mining equipment business Northland Equipment and Supply.
It was during his first few years in Iron Mountain that Frendewey had a small role in the history of area snowmobiling. In the early 1960s, Northern Mining sold a rudimentary snowmobile called the Trailmaker, which was introduced by Abe Mathews, a member of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. Frendewey was very likely the first person to drive a snowmobile across the frozen surface of Lake Antoine, to the astonishment of local ice fishermen.
Survivors include his four children, nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and his beloved companion in later life, Sue Reath of Grand Rapids.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 12, at St. Mary and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Iron Mountain. Fr. Janusz Romanek will offer the Mass of Christian Burial. The Uren-Cooper-Johnson American Legion Post 50 will conduct military graveside honors at Cemetery Park in Iron Mountain following the Mass.
Condolences to the family of James Frendewey may be expressed online at www.ernashfuneralhomes.com.
The family has entrusted the Erickson-Rochon & Nash Funeral Home of Iron Mountain with the arrangements.