Fred’s New Adventure
DATELINE: 126 DUDLEY ROAD, Westport, New York, March 2021 – While not much in this dispatch will come as Breaking News to the members of our community, it is this author’s intent to convey our appreciation for our most recently retired colleague – Fred Guffey. Many of us who have been privileged to work with Fred recently gathered (pandemic style) in The Poler Leadership Center on January 22nd of this year to say “bon chance” to the man who many of us think of as one of the ultimate purveyors of “The Other Fellow First.”
Frederick Andrew Guffey #17600 came to work at Dudley under then-Director Wheaton Griffin in 1996. Dr. Griffin had a great eye for talent, but this was truly one of Wheaton’s most durable and fortuitous hires. Fred’s next 26 years of constant dedicated service to Camp are the perfect testimony to just how important his hire was for the healthy and pristine facility we enjoy today.
Born in Spring City, Pennsylvania December 5, 1957, Fred Guffey left PA for a life of adventure and service to his country and his fellow man. After entering the United States Air Force in 1975, Fred rose to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant – hence his moving and respectful cheer – Chief Master Sergeant – Retired! All who have seen the smile on Fred’s face whenever that cheer goes up know that it is a source of amusement and pride for him. He wears it well – just like his uniform which I believe he can still wrestle himself into.
Fred met and married his wife, Jan LaRochelle, while still in the Air Force. They were married in Colorado in 1975. From Alaska to Presque Isle and all the stops in between, those who served with and under Fred Guffey speak of him with that same reverence that we at Camp have come to describe our crack administrator. On more than one occasion I have seen a man rise up when he realizes Fred is in the room and approach him to rekindle a relationship forged by years spent serving their country.
When Jan and Fred moved into Pine Lodge with their children – Winter, AJ and Sherrilynn – it was truly the beginning of monumental tasks and leadership. As if it were not enough to simply keep Dudley’s figurative head above water from summer to summer, Fred faced a two and a half decade long stretch of change the likes of which Camp had not ever known. A partial list of the things that Fred held the reigns on is listed below. And please, no letters. I said it is partial.
- Bringing a spring-fed water system up to code
- Changing over to Town of Westport water from a 100-year-old, gravity-fed system
- Building and installing hundreds of individual screens for the cabin windows at Dudley
- Becoming the first person of contact for the NY Department of Health and the American Camp Association
- Working with the Dudley Board of Managers to create a viable equipment depreciation tracking system
- Helping all program areas create a summer-to-summer inventory system
- Moving from foreman to Head of Grounds to Business Manager
- Invaluable leadership during the purchase, initial analysis, and support of Camp KIniya
- Overseeing capital improvements too numerous to mention
While Fred was never a camper at Dudley, his contribution was perhaps more valuable to Camp because of his later arrival at the institution. He was that fresh set of eyes who was never afraid to ask us why we did things a certain way and then made suggestions that would change our operation for the better. Fred had a way of making himself an expert on any task he was assigned and through that dedication he let us all know just how much he loved Camp. In his humble way, Fred embraced everything from Work Weekend to (yes) Mellowfest. Why? Because he saw that it was important to our community and ultimately to the campers and Fred always knew that they were the ultimate mission. Fred and Jan have moved to be with their youngest, Sherrilynn, her husband, and their three children. Those who know Fred know that his commitment to his work is exceeded only by his love of family. Sherri said that she is so grateful to have her folks with her these days. Again, if you know Fred, you are probably familiar with his encyclopedic knowledge of all things related to Country and Western music. She remarked that it is wonderful to “listen to Fred sing Sixteen Tons to my children as they tap along to the beat.”