John Fredericks

Sparta /
| 15 May 2024 | 12:32

John Wilbur Fredericks passed away peacefully on May 4, 2024, near his beloved Sanibel, Fla. He was 88.

John spent his childhood in Oak Ridge. He lived across the street from his grandparents, attended a two-room schoolhouse, learned to play the piano and shoveled coal for his father’s business.

He graduated from Butler High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1957, he purchased his father’s coal business and established Fredericks Fuel and Heating Service, converting to home heating oil as coal became obsolete.

Retiring in 2004, he turned the business over to his son and daughter-in-law.

John met his wife, Jane, in Latin class in high school; the two were active in the marching band and chorus and became inseparable for the next 71 years.

After 63 years in Oak Ridge, they spent the next 25 years splitting their time between Sparta and Mantoloking in New Jersey and Sanibel.

Together, John and Jane traveled the globe extensively, visiting more than 100 countries.

Most of all, John enjoyed spending time with Jane and their family and friends.

Recognizing the need for a community bank in his hometown, John and several other local businessmen decided to charter one themselves. In 1969, the Lakeland State Bank (now Lakeland Bancorp) was formed, and John served as president and later chairman of the board until his retirement from banking in 2011.

During his 42-year tenure, the bank grew from a single office in a rented trailer to one of the largest banks in New Jersey.

As an active member of the community, John served on the board of trustees of Chilton Memorial Hospital for more than 25 years and was a founding member and past president of the West Milford Rotary Club.

He was also active in the Sanibel Rotary Club, known to many for his storytelling and sense of humor.

Extremely proud of his alma mater, he dedicated time to interviewing MIT candidates for more than 30 years.

He took great pleasure in being a member of the Bay Head Yacht Club, the Captiva Island Yacht Club and the Lake Mohawk Golf Club.

An accomplished pianist and organist, John played the piano nearly all his life, starting lessons at 5 years old. Anyone who knew him associated him with the piano, and he played just about every day for an hour or more.

A lifelong parishioner of the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church, John served as a volunteer organist for more than 20 years, with Jane as the choir director.

He spent many winter Sundays at the piano at the Sanibel Congregational Church of Christ.

John loved classical music and regularly attended Broadway plays, operas and concerts. He self-produced many piano pieces on CDs and these became his annual Christmas card greeting for many years.

Friends and acquaintances looked forward to his weekly emailed piano recordings during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will always be remembered by his family and friends for sharing his passion and lifelong love of the piano.

Although an astute and pragmatic businessman, John was also a playful and endearing man who loved to share jokes and command a room. He was a man of integrity, always striving to be diplomatic and fair, and he was well-known for dispensing sage advice to those who needed it.

John loved spending time with his children and grandchildren, taking walks and bike riding. He was especially well-loved by his grandchildren, who fondly called him Poppy, and he thoroughly enjoyed piling all seven kids into his car for various outings.

As a loving father, grandfather and friend, his memory will be cherished by those who had the great fortune of knowing him. While he will be remembered for his significant contributions to business and the community at large, his most enduring legacy is his family.

He was predeceased by his wife, Jane Edith (née Dixon); his brother, Edward J. Fredericks; and his parents Wilbur W. and Florence (née Paulison) Fredericks.

He is survived by his daughter, Diane J. Richerts and her husband Joseph; his son, Mark J. Fredericks and his wife Shelley; seven grandchildren, James Richerts (Megan), Megan Richerts (Thomas Garvin), Katelyn Richerts (Patrick O’Neill), Leanne Fredericks, William Fredericks (Olivia), Douglas Fredericks and Emily Caudill (Cameron); and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are private for immediate family only.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church, John and Jane Fredericks Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 302, Oak Ridge, NJ 07438.

Arrangements are under the direction of Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St., Newton.

Online condolences may be offered at