Fred Slavic of Fitzwilliam died Oct. 6, 2013, at Bentley Commons in Keene.
A member of “The Greatest Generation,” he was born in Philadelphia Jan. 1, 1917, to Clara and Harry Slavic. He grew up during the Great Depression and sailed as a merchant seaman in World War II. He survived German bombs in Italy and North Africa and the attacks of Japanese suicide pilots off of Okinawa in the Pacific.
He and his wife lived in Fitzwilliam for more than 41 years.
Mr. Slavic, an inventor since his early boyhood, was always curious about the way things worked. During World War II he worked for Lockheed, designing the tools which helped the United States win the war. Fond of sailing, he went to sea as a merchant seaman while in his teens, and after working ashore for several years, rejoined the Merchant Marines and served at sea from 1942 until 1945.
Among his inventions is the Ripstrate, a table saw attachment that has prevented many hand injuries and saved countless thousands of fingers.
He was also a printer and publisher, who, with his artist and author wife, Rosalind, formed a publishing company, Panda Prints, which revolutionized the greeting card industry and turned a small niche branch of that industry into today’s studio card business.
Mr. Slavic enjoyed drawing, writing and photography and turned several of his wife's children’s books into animated films. One of them, “When Nino Flew,” was judged to be among the 10 best children’s films of the year in which it appeared.
He and his wife enjoyed the outdoors, including hiking, snowshoeing and sailing. After crossing the Atlantic in their 44-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl, built by Mr. Slavic with the help of two boat builders, they spent seven successive summers under sail and finally ended their overseas voyaging after reaching Turkey and the Middle East.
For the last 20-plus years, he and his wife have been active members of the Fitzwilliam Conservation Commission. So strong has been their attachment to the environment that they have willed their 300-acre property bordering Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam to the Northeast Wilderness Trust. It will be maintained as a wilderness area and wildlife sanctuary.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Rosalind Slavic of Fitzwilliam; his sister, Estelle Gluck of Florida; his three nieces, Sharon Freedman of New York, Eileen Markowitz of New Jersey and Carol Hammond of Florida; his nephew, Barry Gluck of California; and many good friends.
A remembrance for Mr. Slavic will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Fitzwilliam Town Hall, 13 Templeton Turnpike.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Mr. Slavic’s memory to the Northeast Wilderness Trust, 17 State St., Suite 302, Montpelier, Vt. 05602.