Friday, December 12, 2014
LUBERT "BERT" DeFREESE
DeFreese, whose father was the minister at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Peabody, enlisted in the Navy after graduation from PHS and served in the Pacific until the end of World War II.
After his discharge, he attended Colorado State University at Ft. Collins, Colo., earning degrees in 1949 in both science and forestry. He worked for the National Park Service until 1955 when he joined the Secret Service.
DeFreese first served in Chicago, working on counterfeit cases and check forgeries. In 1958, during Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, he was transferred to the White House detail.
He served on White House details protecting presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. DeFreese also served in the Protective Research Branch, Public Affairs, the Liaison Division, and the Office of Investigations.
DeFreese, who died in 1991 from complications of tuberculosis and leukemia, was with Kennedy in Texas, but had left Dallas the morning of the assassination.
In a letter to DeFreese's PHS classmates for a reunion book, his wife Marian wrote that Bert "had been in the field for three weeks arranging the Florida and Dallas trips. He returned home to help carry the president's casket off of Air Force One."
"JFK was wonderful to work with," she continued. "He was funny, interesting, outgoing, and modest. Bert took many trips with President Kennedy, including at least four out of the country."
DeFreese spent 23 years in the Secret Service.