Fred Ferguson Mullins, Jr., passed away at his home in Coronado on July 8, 2020.
He was born on Sept. 13, 1919, in Helena, Alabama, and lived there until joining the U.S. Navy in 1939, commissioned in 1941. During a 26-year naval career, he fought in two wars and commanded several ships and a destroyer squadron.
His first ship was USS Cuyama (AO-3), followed by many others, notably the USS Whippet (IX-129), which he joined as XO in 1944, becoming the CO in May, 1944, as a 24 year old lieutenant. He took the Whippet through the World War II Pacific campaigns for the Marianas, Palau, and the Philippines. At Kerama Retto the Whippet was fueling ships while under Kamikaze attack during the Okinawa landings, earning two battle stars under Fred’s command.
While assigned to the USS Cuyama, Fred was sent on temporary duty for 30 days to the USS Monaghan (DD-354) for gunnery training at Pearl Harbor. He left Pearl Harbor in Nov 1941 to return to the Cuyama, with 30 days leave on the way. During that leave he met Josephine Hope Lansdowne at First Methodist Church in San Pedro, California. They dated; Fred considered a leave extension in December 1941, but decided it wasn’t the right thing to do. He returned to the Cuyama on Dec. 6. World War II interfered with their romance, but couldn’t keep them apart. Fred and Jo were married in October 1943, remaining married for nearly 50 years until Jo passed away in 1993.
Post war, Fred graduated from University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa while continuing to drill with the Navy Reserve. When the Korean War began, Fred volunteered for destroyer duty and served as XO of the USS Porterfield (DD-682) (two battle stars).
In 1956, Fred moved the family, increased by son Fred and daughter Mende, to Coronado. There he served as XO of the USS Dixie (AD-14), then CO of the USS Hooper Island (ARG-17) and finally CO of the USS Klondike (AD/AR-22). His final tour was as Commodore of Reserve Destroyer Squadron (ResDesRon) 27, responsible for 12 destroyers spread from San Diego to Seattle. He retired as captain, with over 26 years of service in 1967.
After retiring from the Navy, Fred became assistant manager of 1st National Bank, Coronado Branch, in 1968, moving up to manager in 1970. Over the years, the bank changed names to California First Bank, Southern California First National Bank, Union Bank of California, and finally Union Bank…but Fred remained the guiding hand of the Coronado branch until he retired in 1984.
Fred was deeply involved in the community of Coronado. Fred Joined Rotary in October 1969 and over the years served on the program committee, membership committee, caring committee, classification committee, and played Santa Claus delivering gifts to Rotarian Children in Coronado.
Fred and Jo joined St Paul’s United Methodist Church soon after arriving in Coronado and he was very active there through the years. He chaired the finance committee for many years and continued to serve on it, as well as the stewardship committee, the pastor parish committee, and the caring committee. Last year he was an honorary co-chairperson for the church’s latest financial campaign.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and worked with Job’s Daughters with Jo and daughter Mende. He was in the Lion’s Club for a few years and served on the Coronado PTA as the program chairman. Fred coached “Cap” League baseball with his son, Fred, and was vice chairman of the Boy Scout District.
Fred was a member of the Navy League and was on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Historical Association for several years. He worked on the United Way Campaign and he drove Coronado patients to doctor and treatment appointments.
After retirement from the bank, Fred and Jo traveled often to be with their children and grandchildren and enjoyed cruises to the Mediterranean, the Holy Land, and Greece. After Jo passed away, Fred married Marilyn Flynn in 1999, an old friend and coworker from the bank. Fred and Marilyn continued to travel to be with family and cruise the world. They even took an African Safari, Fred’s dream trip.
Fred is predeceased by his first wife, Josephine Hope Mullins. Fred is survived by his wife Marilyn; his children Fred L. Mullins, Mende (Bruce) Wentzel; his grandchildren CDR Lynita (Diego Villacis) Mullins, USN, Patricia Mullins, CPT Mende Jo Wentzel, USA, Hope Wentzel; great grandchildren Moira Villacis and Josephine Villacis; sister Patty Donaldson; and many nieces and nephews.
Fred will be laid to rest at El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley, 5600 Carroll Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92121. Visitation will be July 24 at 10 a.m.. in the El Camino Memorial Chapel followed by a graveside service with full military honors, at 11:30 a.m. Please note that the number of visitors in the chapel will be limited to 50 at one time and “social distancing” and wearing of masks must be observed in the chapel and for the graveside ceremony. More than 50 may attend the graveside ceremony. A memorial service of remembrance will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Legacy Fund (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Rotary Club of Coronado in Memory of Fred Mullins (Rotary Club of Coronado, P.O. Box 180487, Coronado, CA, 92178).