Freda Perrotta passed away September 3, 2023 in Bradenton, FL. She was 97 years old.
Born in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, NY in 1926, Freda was the second child of Abraham (Al) Polansky and Fay Polansky (née Golding). Her brother Paul was two years older.
A bright and eager student, Freda moved through the grades of the New York City public school system at an accelerated pace. By age 16, she had graduated from high school and was taking classes first at the Cooper Union in Greenwich Village and then at City College of New York on East 23rd Street, now known as the Bernard M. Baruch College of the City University of New York. It was there she met her future husband, Francis (Frank) Perrotta.
Encouraged by Frank’s offhand comment that he would marry her when she was “21 and had graduated from college,” she wasted no time in enrolling as a full-time engineering student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now known as Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, VA. This was during the height of WWII, and women at VPI had only very recently been permitted to pursue this course of study. She and Frank were married in July of 1947, shortly after her 21st birthday and her graduation.
For the first seven years of their married life, Freda and Frank lived on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Each pursued professional careers – Frank in credit and commercial factoring; Freda in commercial engineering.
Around 1954, they decided to leave New York City and move to the Hudson River Valley town of Garrison, NY, where they built a house on 5 acres of forested land. Frank became a commuter on the Hudson Line and continued with his career in New York City. Freda became a full-time homemaker and mother of three sons.
As her youngest child was approaching high school age, Freda readied herself for a return to work by earning a Master’s in Library Science from C.W. Post College on Long Island, NY. After receiving her degree, she had a 15-year-long career in libraries, working first as a children’s librarian at the Alice Curtis Desmond and Hamilton Fish Library in Garrison, NY and then as middle-school librarian in the Highland Falls, NY public school system. During this time, she was also an adult literacy volunteer.
After the death of her beloved husband Frank in 1992, Freda began a new chapter of her life. In search of a milder climate, she moved to Longboat Key, FL – a Perrotta family vacation destination since the 1960’s – and re-committed herself to volunteerism.
She delivered Meals on Wheels to homebound residents of Longboat Key, spent countless hours phone-banking for the local chapter of the Democratic Party, organized (and catered) the monthly newsletter mailout for the Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club, and – most famously – became the unofficial “Top Turtle” of Longboat Key Turtle Watch, a volunteer group dedicated to sea turtle conservation. During her many years with LBKTW, she took on numerous responsibilities, including scheduling beach patrols, organizing t-shirt sales, and educating the public through well-attended “nest openings” on the beach and at impromptu sunset releases of straggler sea turtle hatchlings. For many years, she was also a volunteer docent at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
Freda was well known for her seemingly inexhaustible energy and her eternal optimism. Over the years, there were few if any setbacks that she couldn’t find a way to view as opportunities for something else.
She died with family and friends close by and is survived by her three sons, Peter Perrotta (Sharon Kraus) of Chicago, IL; Paul Perrotta (Tamra Myers) of Seattle, WA; and David Perrotta (Janet Stocks) of Washington, DC. Other surviving family members include her three granddaughters, Melinda Rosen of Chicago, IL; Cara Frances of Philadelphia, PA; and Nora Stewart of New York, NY; as well as two step-granddaughters Catherine Thornton-Stocks and Cora Thornton-Stocks, both of Chicago, IL and great-grandchildren Hanna Mae Borden-Stocks of Chicago, IL and Walker Jefferson James Stewart of New York, NY.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family asks that those wishing to make a memorial gesture consider a donation to Longboat Key Turtle Watch (https://www.lbkturtlewatch.org/friends_of_freda).