Fredrick Roger Pfister
Fredrick Roger Pfister, son of Rolla and Jean Pfister, was born January 7, 1946, in Houston, MO. Fred departed this life on Friday, February 26, 2021, at Cox South in Springfield, at the age of 75 after a long illness and recent surgery.
Fred was the fifth of six brothers and attended a one-room elementary schoolhouse in Texas County, graduating from Houston High School in 1963. He began a life dedicated to writing, speaking and teaching as a college student at School of the Ozarks, graduating in 1968. From there he went to the University of Arkansas, where he received his Master’s Degree in 1969.
He returned to the Ozarks and taught English and Speech at Gainesville. In 1971, he became a professor at a local college and simultaneously completed a doctoral degree in English Literature at the University of Mississippi in 1976.
Fred was loved by students and faculty alike. Over the past few days, many students have remembered him on social media with comments such as “he helped inspire me to write for a living,” “(he had) a brilliant mind, a tender heart and a savage sense of humor,” and “I was lucky to be his friend.”
Others recalled how he would begin each class by mentioning a historical event that happened on that particular day. Still others remembered his sports jackets with leather elbow patches, pipe aroma, deep voice and the way he remembered each student by name and always greeted them.
Outside the classroom, Fred had many interests, including provoking friends with Facebook postings and enjoying his spouse’s cooking. “Wifey Faye” was often the subject of his many social media posts—what she cooked, where they traveled, what they watched on tv and how she meant more to him than anything on Earth.
Always interested in the environment, Fred loved beekeeping and floating the Ozarks’ many creeks and streams. He was a devoted composter, gardener and one of the first people in town to buy a Prius.
Fred was the author of “The Littlest Baby,” a guidebook for parents of premature infants based on the birth of his daughter Falecia, who was born at one pound, eight ounces. He also edited the “The Ozarks Mountaineer” magazine for a number of years, was a supporter of the Taneyhills Library and was a popular speaker for clubs and conventions. His talks on “weather windys,” Ozark placenames and his one-man depiction of author Walt Whitman for the Missouri Humanities Council were just some of Fred’s many chances to bring his talents to life.
He was a great storyteller but always willing to listen; he was intelligent but humble about his beautiful mind. Fred always made the person he was listening to feel like no one else was more important to him at that particular moment—and at that particular moment, that was the truth.
A staunch Democrat, Fred was an avid member of the Common Sense Society and a founding member of the Friday Afternoon Round Table Society (check out the initials of this group!) He loved good movies, good art, good music, good writers (in particular, C. S. Lewis,) good friends, good food and good tax-free whiskey picked up on his and Faye’s many travels abroad, including a 49th anniversary Viking Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland.
Fred is preceded in death by his parents and his beloved daughter, Falecia, who passed in 2013.
In addition, he is predeceased by brothers Robert Pfister and his wife Mabel and Dennis and his wife Patricia. He is survived by brothers James Pfister and wife Myrna of Summerfield, SC, David Pfister and his wife Joyce of Kissee Mills and Jerome Pfister of Raymondville.
He also leaves behind his wife of 53 years, Faye Coonts Pfister, and a host of relatives and good friends whose lives seem a little less bright without Fred in them.
Although ill health and the threat of contracting Covid had kept Fred inside for much of the past year, he was not someone that anyone who knew him could or will forget. No one would want to.
Due to Covid, a Celebration of Life for Fred has been postponed until we can all safely congregate.
Memorials in Fred’s honor may be made to the Taneyhills Library, 200 S. 4th Street, Branson, MO 65616, or to the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra, 205 Woodson Bend Road, Branson, MO 65616.
“(His) absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” —C. S. Lewis “A Grief Observed”
(By Camille F. Dautrich, friend of both Fred and Faye since 1974, when we suffered through a six-day-a-week summer class of Medieval Art History at the University of Mississippi. What an honor to have known Fred and to have been asked to write this remembrance.)