June 10, 1924-Dec. 15, 2023

Victor Russell Frei age 99, a lifelong resident of Santa Clara, Utah, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15, 2023, in the same home he was born in and lived in for most of his life. He was born June 10, 1924, in Santa Clara, Utah, to Vivian Jacob Frei and Jesse Lenora Hafen.

As a young boy growing up in Santa Clara, he spent his time exploring the hills and surrounding area and swimming in the boy’s pond. He loved hunting squirrels and rabbits with his homemade flipper. These early years led to a lifelong love of the outdoors. 

He attended Santa Clara Elementary, Dixie High School and Dixie College. From 1943-46, during World War II, he served in the Marine Corps with active duty in the Solomon Islands. He was the last living World War II Veteran of the 44 enlistees who came from Santa Clara. After his service, while attending Dixie College, he met the love of his life Gwendolyn Kemp. As a foreshadowing of their future together, their first date was fishing at Enterprise Reservoir. They were married on Dec. 27, 1948, in the St. George LDS Temple.

After graduation, he attended Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City, Utah, where he received his bachelor’s degree in education. He then went on to receive his master’s degree at NAU in Flagstaff, Arizona, in education administration. 

He taught fifth grade at Cedar North Elementary and West Elementary in St. George, Utah, where he later became principal. He finished his career as the administrative director of elementary education for Washington County School District. 

Vic and Gwendolyn built a cabin on Kolob Mountain which was the central gathering place for the family for decades. Many happy memories were made at the cabin, especially on the lake fishing. The whole family enjoyed the annual Easter trip to Lake Mead where more fishing was done.

Vic was happiest being outdoors whether on a mountain, on a lake, or hunting any type of wild game. Many hours were spent fly fishing, and he eventually grew to be a master fly fisherman. He lived for the annual Utah deer hunt, with his last buck being harvested by himself at the age of 93. He was a lifelong learner and teacher. He taught himself the art of fly tying and was a self-taught taxidermist as well. He loved teaching his grandchildren and they spent countless hours with him in his shop tying flies, outdoors learning how to fly fish, working in the garden or shelling peas on the front porch.

Vic always grew a large and plentiful garden. He produced the most beautiful tomatoes, corn, and especially watermelons and generously shared them with all his family and neighbors.

His love for Santa Clara was shown through the many ways he served in the community to preserve the heritage that he loved so much. He was the Santa Clara constable, the Santa Clara mayor, as well as the watermaster for the Santa Clara Field Canal Company. He was also a founding member of the Dixie Wildlife Federation.

Vic was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his testimony was a source of strength his whole life. He enjoyed serving in the church and held many callings including Elders Quorum President, High Priest Group Leader, Stake High Counselor, and Bishop of the Santa Clara Ward. After retirement Victor and Gwendolyn served an LDS mission in the Georgia Atlanta Mission from 1996-97. They also served as ordinance workers in the St. George LDS Temple for seven years. 

His greatest achievement and joy was his family. He is survived by his beloved wife Gwendolyn, his four children: Daniel (Pat) Frei, David (Debi) Frei, Randy (Karen) Frei, Sally (Stan) DeMille; 14 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and his two sisters Dorothy Lightner and Phyllis Norton. He is preceded in death by his parents Vivian and Jesse and his brothers Landon, Howard and Shelby.

His family would like to express appreciation to Dixie Hospice for their loving service and the Santa Clara 1st Ward Relief Society for their compassionate services. 

Visitation will be held at Spilsbury Mortuary 110 S Bluff St., St. George Utah Tuesday, Dec. 19, from 6-7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the Santa Clara Valley Chapel 3040 Santa Clara Drive Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 11 a.m. preceded by visitation from 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Arrangements are under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff St., St. George, 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to sign Vic’s online guest book.