Died Friday, February 15 at Zilber Hospice, following a four week hospitalization. Fred was born in Milwaukee on November 22, 1924 to Frederic Gaffron Syburg and Hannah Eschweiler Syburg. Fred was married for 56 years to Jane Mitchell Syburg who died in 2006. He is survived by their three children, Nancy Marie Syburg, Robert Mitchell (Barbara Simonds) Syburg and Ellen Syburg (Michael Francis) Bartel and six grandchildren: Nora Alice and Max Henry Taylor; Hannah Lincoln and Richard Simonds Syburg and Michael Frederic (Fritz) and Mitchel Francis Bartel. He is further survived by his brother Carl T. (Janet) Syburg, numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Fred spent his childhood years on the east side of Milwaukee and at Ashbourne, his grandfather’s country property, in Chenequa. Following his graduation from Milwaukee University School, he spent a year at Brown University before being called to serve in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. Following the war, he completed his education at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa where he met Jane who was a student at neighboring Clarke College. Following Fred’s graduate work at Columbia University, Jane and Fred were married June 17, 1950. He was the first lay, male faculty member at Clarke College where he taught drama, speech and directed plays. All three children were born in Dubuque. Fred and Jane moved the family to South Bend when Fred joined the faculty of the Department of Speech and Drama at the University of Notre Dame. His career at Notre Dame spanned five decades. During his career, Fred was a highly regarded director of over forty plays and a much admired teacher of oral interpretation and dramatic literature. It is a testament to his commitment to broad and lifelong education that some of his teaching that he found most satisfying was in the Freshman Seminar program and the College of Arts and Letters Core course. Fred also worked as a speech consultant and coach for several corporate clients. Following his retirement, the Alumni Association of the University recognized him with the Arthur S. Harvey Award for his dedication to “young thespians and the University theatre.”
Fred and Jane enjoyed an active retirement, pursuing their intellectual interests, always seeking to learn and engage with new ideas and others’ responses to them. They each taught many courses at Forever Learning in South Bend and Fred resumed his acting career appearing in eleven productions at South Bend Civic Theater. Jane and Fred relocated to Milwaukee, WI in 2005. Following Jane’s death in 2006, Fred worked Stoically to build an active and meaningful life and found a new passion in the study and teaching of poetry. He was first a member and, at his death, the leader of the Wauwatosa Hart Park Senior Center Poetry Circle. A relative newcomer to residence at San Camillo, he initiated a new class, “Why Poetry?” just the day before his hospitalization. As his health issues prevented him from continuing this class at its original location, Fred shared his love for poetry with the many caregivers whom he encountered during his stay at Froedtert. A devout Catholic, Fred shared his gift for oral interpretation as a frequent lector in every faith community of which he was a member.
A Mass celebrating Fred’s life will take place on Friday, February 22, 2013 at the chapel at San Camillo. The family will greet friends from 2:30 – 4:30PM. There will be a brief reading of some of Fred’s favorite poetry at 4:30PM and Mass will be celebrated at 5:00 PM. The Mass of Christian burial will take place at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN on Monday, April 1. Fred will be laid to rest at Cedar Grove Cemetery at the University of Notre Dame. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions might be made to the Frederic W. and Jane M. Syburg Faculty Professional Development Fund at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, 4257 N. 100th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53222 or the Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60654.