Hatteberg's People - Fred Voelker

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fred Voelker celebrated his 100th birthday this month. Fred has lived longer than most, has his mind, and most important, has his memories.

Season's change, so do people.

"Been on my own since I was 20 years old."

You see, Fred's seasons have been many.

"No complaints."

He lives over a Western Kansas prairie hill among the trees not far from the water tower at Ft. Dodge in Ford County. It is a historic old fort, now a veteran's home. As the wind teases the flags, the smell of winter not far away. The leaves, like Fred, are changing with time.

"I've worked all my life and I just get by with what I have."

He is a proud man. Self-sufficient. His wife is in a nearby rehabilitation center with a broken leg, so he apologizes for the clutter. A few feet away, a case. It is one of Fred's fiddles.

"It's not my best fiddle, but it's one I like to play."

You see, Fred is an old-time fiddle player. He's in the National Fiddler's Hall of Fame and has received over 50 awards, most now given away.

"It's been my favorite fiddle for several years."

He still plays, but knows the music isn't like it was.

"My hands get stiff and I can't finger them like I used too, so it bothers me some."

At age 100, he still plays but tires easily. Fred toured with the Bob Willis band back in the 1930s and 1940s. He worked in law enforcement for 30 years and sold cars until he was 95, but fiddlin' has been his love.

"And I've been playing since I was 14 years old."

Outside, leaves resist the coming winter and, like the seasons of our life, sometimes, all we want is our music to continue.

"We just live like old folks, are comfortable and don't want for nothing."

A couple times a month, Fred gets together with his buddies and they do a little jamming at the fort. A smile at any age is still a smile.

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