‘Everybody liked him:’ Former mayor of South Williamsport fondly remembered
Through an active and prolific life, R. David Frey, who served as mayor of South Williamsport for 22 years, gained the reputation of being a mentor, an outdoorsman, a community figure and, perhaps most importantly to those close to him, a genuine “family man.”
Born on Feb. 15, 1915, Frey was 102 when he passed away on May 27.
But with decades of area involvement in the community in which he raised his family, his legacy lives on.
After graduating from the former Hepburnville High School in 1933, he worked for Williamsport Coca-Cola Bottling Co. for seven years before joining his brother at Frey’s Tire Shop — a place that later would become a source of shared memories between him and his sons.
Before World War II broke out, he married Mary R. Weary. The two were married for 65 years before she passed away in 2005.
During World War II, Frey was an aerial gunnery instructor in the Navy and returned to work at the tire shop when he came home.
Serving as a justice of the peace in South Williamsport for 10 years before being elected mayor in 1970, he become a known community staple in the borough.
Borough Councilman Carl Nolan, who said he knew Frey for “just about forever,” was chairman of the planning commission when Frey was mayor and the two worked very closely together.
“I’ve known him from the tire shop, as the mayor and then afterward,” Nolan said. “He was just a super guy and a great mayor.”
Nolan remembered Frey’s role in the rezoning of the borough.
“When you went to council meetings, he was involved in the process even though he didn’t have a vote,” Nolan said. “He was interested in the welfare of all of the residents in South Williamsport and I mean that … he was a respectable guy. Everybody liked him. I haven’t talked to one person who hasn’t liked Dave Frey.”
Often described as a quiet person, Frey nonetheless had a significant skill at public speaking, a talent that helped him become a local civic and political leader.
His son, Steven Frey, said it was more like “quietly effective.”
“He was terrific at giving these off-the-cuff speeches,” Steven Frey said. “He would instill the values of living in the area, and listening to him speak would be inspiring. He had a way of drawing people together.”
Aside from his work with the borough, David Frey served as the county Democratic chairman for over a decade, a county jury commissioner and was an avid outdoorsman.
His three sons, Steven, Charles and David, fondly recalled their times in the woods together.
“He was a natural-born hunter,” Charles Frey said.
David Frey would take his sons to an old homestead where he grew up in Hepburnville.
“But it was tough finding time because he was sometimes working horrendous hours as a tire salesmen – developing routes and trying to better the tire shop,” Charles Frey said.
Frey’s Tire Shop was a big part of David Frey’s life.
It began in the late 1920s, but he didn’t join his brother in it until a bit later.
When Charles Frey retired from the Navy in 1982, he joined his father and ran the business until it closed in 1998.
“When you’re in a business like that, you’re always under the gun,” Charles Frey said. “But he was always a mentor. Always. When I made a mistake, we stopped and talked about it … those are truly precious times even though they were rough, tough and competitive.”
His sons expressed a passionate thankfulness at having such a good father.
“He was a wonderful man,” Steven Frey said. “Generous, kind and friendly.”