Fred Vesey – a man known by many in our MDI circles of brothers – passed away May 10, 2016 after a battle with lymphoma. He was 68. A veteran of men’s circles since his Men’s Weekend in 1984, Vesey held numerous leadership positions including Division Coordinator twice, an RC of the Western Region and in recent years an Elder helping to facilitate the Young Men’s Ultimate Weekends.
Diagnosed with cancer in July 2015, Vesey received consistent support from his men over the past 10 months, including a Monte Carlo Night fundraiser three days prior to his passing. He leaves behind a wife Katrina, two children and five grandchildren.
Said Rob Noël of the Western Region’s Razor’s Edge, “This morning one of the best men I knew passed away from that terrible beast called cancer. I will miss you Fred more than words can say.”
Said Brad Leslie, longtime friend who visited Fred on May 7 and 9: “Thank you for your good work Fred. You can rest now. Blessings on your Journey. It was good to shake your hand and kiss you goodbye on your last day here.”
Mark Schillinger, founder of the Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend, said, “I am saddened by the passing of my close friend and trustworthy mentor. Fred was literally ‘The Man’ who took great care of all the volunteers and young men at the Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend. Fred’s ability to connect with people quickly and deeply created relationships that earned him the respect and loyalty of everyone who knew him. His legacy will always be remembered in our history, as countless stories emerge about his vulnerable heart and his fearless courage. Fred lives on in our lives as being the man we always want to be.”
Vesey was too ill to attend the May 7 Monte Carlo Night fundraiser in person, though he was able to tune in via Skype. With close to 100 attending, the evening saw Leslie carrying around the laptop showing his friend around: the kitchen, the black jack table, the stacks of chips. According to Leslie, Vesey was able to even play, saying “hit me; hit me again.”
Steve Goodman, who was in four divisions with Vesey, said, “I am glad he got to see those who made it to the Monte Carlo night and how much he has touched the lives, literally, of thousands of people, young and old.”
Vesey’s impact has been extensive. After over 20 years of leadership within MDI (including years when it first formed in 2000), Vesey stepped into roles to support young men in the Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend, starting in 2008. Participating in over 16 weekends with 600-plus young lives touched, Vesey stepped up as PTM, Elder and Ringmaster among others. Said Leslie, Fred was passionate about young men entering a man’s world in a positive way. An active member of the KingMakers team until his sickness, Vesey removed himself from the extensive participation shortly before his diagnosis.
On the evening of his passing, according to his wife Katrina, Fred was having a difficult time. He wanted to be close to his wife, so he made sure Katrina’s chair was pressed up against his bed. They could hold hands, as they listened to music. Says Katrina, his last words were “I love you baby.”
Katrina, who married Fred January 23, 2016, said, “I know that wherever I am, Freddy will be watching over me and will never leave me. I am in shock; reality has not sunk in. I never knew what true heartache was until I lost him, Fred was and is the love of my life. I keep waiting to hear his voice calling me from the other room as he did constantly, but there is nothing but silence. But at the same time, he knew that me being here alone in this apartment and town was beyond difficult. He is here with me.”