Some view caring for their husband, children, and home to be rather mundane tasks with little reward. Nothing could have been farther from the truth for Rosella Freda, she not only viewed these opportunities as a great privilege, but she also welcomed catering to individual desires with open arms and a sacrificial heart. Rosella and her family lived many places throughout their lives, but no matter where they called home, she always created a haven of comfort and love for her family. Rosella mastered the difficult feat of giving her children and grandchildren both the roots and the wings they needed to become successful in their own lives. It will be these children and grandchildren who remain her greatest legacy.
The twenties were a time unlike any other in our nation’s history. The end of WWI brought peace and prosperity to America, and people were looking to celebrate – even feeling a bit footloose and fancy free. George and Margaret (Schaefer) Fraundorf were celebrating their own joyous occasion as they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Rosella Katherine, on July 29, 1925. Rosella was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the oldest of nine children in her family including four brothers and four sisters. She was of German Catholic descent, and her father worked as an auto mechanic while her mother was a homemaker. While Rosella was still quite young, her family moved to Hartford, located a bit to the northwest. She remained there throughout the rest of her formative years and attended St. Killian Grade School and Hartford High School. Rosella always reflected on her childhood fondly and often spoke of the visits she took to her uncle and aunt’s farm. While there, she milked cows and even had to hold the chickens while the head was cut off. Rosella always said that chickens really do run around with their heads cut off! She also spoke of the times that she took the car without having her license. In fact, driving would be something she struggled to master throughout the rest of her life.
During the mid-forties, Rosella moved back to Milwaukee, which proved to be a fateful decision. She found work as both a nanny and a waitress. It was during the summer of 1948 that Rosella met the man with whom she would write an eloquent love story. While sitting at a table in a local tavern with friends, Rosella couldn’t help but notice a handsome young man in a Marine Corps uniform who walked in. She made a comment on how she liked the way he wore his hat and with that, a spark was ignited. The young man’s name was James Freda, and he was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago, Illinois, although he was on leave at that time. That initial spark ignited into a whirlwind romance, and Rosella and James soon eloped to North Carolina and were married on October 16, 1948. Rosella had been seeing someone else prior to meeting James and as a result of that relationship, she was pregnant. Together Rosella and James decided to put that baby up for adoption.
The Marine Corp ended up being a career for James. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and of course, Rosella was there with him. She began working as a waitress and truly enjoyed her work. Rosella would actually work as a waitress for several years throughout her lifetime. In 1950, Rosella and James were blessed to become parents to their wonderful son, Charles. Their young family was soon separated when James was shipped out to Korea. In his absence, Rosella and Charles moved to Detroit, Michigan, to receive support from Grandma Freda and the rest of James’s family. Rosella frequently wrote to James and sent him pictures of their son during this time.
After he was injured in Korea, James returned stateside. They soon received marching orders, which sent them hop-scotching across the country living in Albany, Georgia, Norfolk, Virginia, and Fallbrook, California. Throughout their moves, Rosella worked as a waitress and cared for Charles. In 1963, James retired from the Marine Corps with more than 22 years of service. Their family then moved back to Milwaukee and settled on the northwest side of the city. Soon after, they welcomed another son, Michael, into their hearts and home. James took a position with Allstate Insurance while Rosella continued working as a waitress at a few local restaurants. Rosella became very close with her Aunt Ruth Schaefer, and together with their husbands, they often went dancing and out socializing. Rosella was a great cook and never minded catering to “special orders” from her family. She always supported and encouraged her sons, teaching them to believe that they could so anything they put their minds to.
Life was forever changed for Rosella with the sudden death of her beloved James in 1980. This was a devastating loss for Rosella and her sons, yet Rosella remained strong for her boys. In many ways, she became the boys’ father in addition to being their mother. She even hung out with Mike’s band and joined in the singing. Rosella was an easy going person but also had the spunk to fend off some creep who was trying to steal her purse!
During her later years, Rosella experienced both peaks and valleys along her journey. In 1994, she felt the need to downsize so she moved to an apartment on Milwaukee’s south side in order to be closer to her family. The very day she moved in, Rosella suffered a stroke, but she fought hard to make a full recovery in the days that followed. In 1997, Rosella and her sons welcomed the son she had put up for adoption with open arms, Allen DeBrozzo. Al suddenly died in 2001. In 2002, Rosella’s health began to decline and it became difficult for her to manage her diabetes as well. She moved into assisted living at Villa St. Francis where she maintained her independence until late December of 2009 when she was hospitalized with rapidly declining health.
Whether she was dancing or listening to “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” waiting on customers, or cooking for her family, Rosella Freda carried herself with compassion, grace, and love for others. She treasured her family and of course, doted over her grandchildren, too. Although Rosella’s family and friends now say farewell, they will forever cherish the precious moments they were given to share with such an extraordinary woman.
Rosella K. Freda died on January 20, 2010. Rosella’s family includes her sons, Chuck (Pam) Freda and Michael J. Freda; daughter-in-law, Leann Freda; grandchildren, Charlie, David (Kelly), Carrie (Tom), Josh, Jessica, Alyssa, Isaiah, Amanda, Rebecca and Cassandra; great-grandchildren, Elyssa, Adamm, Alexis, Zach and Hailey; siblings, Joan Soto, Bob (Judy) Fraundorf, Dick (Bonnie) Fraundorf, and Don Fraundorf. Rosella was receded in death by her beloved husband James V. Freda and son, Allen DeBrozzo. Visit with Rosella’s family and friends on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at the Funeral Home from 11:00 a.m. until time of the Funeral Service at 1:00 p.m. Interment Wood national Cemetery. Arrangements provided by Niemann / Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave 414-744-5156. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or sign the online guestbook.
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