Frederick Bertrum Soch – “Fred” as he is known to all Beertonians – is arguably the most influential Beertonian after Rhys Bramblethorpe and Aloysius Thompson.
Born Jan 1, 1932, Fred spent his childhood as a happy and industrious youth, fishing on the Thakiwaki in the summers, skating on the same river in the winters. At the age of eight, he began work as a delivery boy for Fishman’s General Store to help his family make ends meet. His mother Jean took over as manager of B&T Brewery during the World War II years, and with Fred’s help – now as a part-time shipping clerk after school – the two supported the family while the men were fighting in the Pacific Theater. At seventeen, Fred became the first in his family to enroll in college, attending the state university in the capitol. He completed his degree in economics in the spring of 1955 after patriotically serving his country in the Korean War.
Fred’s life took a momentous turn with his decision – at the age of twenty-four – to run for a newly open spot in the U.S. House of Representatives. Running on a platform of a new prosperity for his district in the post-war years, Fred’s slogan of “Ready when you are!” signaled to the people of Beertown and Praline that with hard work and determination, anything was possible. His easy smile, his history as a veteran, and his reputation as a hard-working man throughout his young life ushered Fred into office in a landslide victory. Turning twenty-five just two days before his swearing-in on January 3, 1957, Fred is the youngest person to have served in the U.S. House.
In his six terms as Representative, Fred cast votes on some of the most important pieces of legislation in our Country’s history. An early adopter of Civil Rights Legislation, Fred’s experience in a newly desegregated Army unit in Korea taught him the importance of a fully integrated nation, one where the potential of all peoples are recognized. Despite some resistance from a largely homogenous district, Fred voted his conscience in the Civil Rights Act 1957 – his first major act as a Representative. By keeping an active presence in both his district and in Washington, Fred was able to convince his community of the importance of the Civil Rights Act and easily won a second term in 1958. Fred took significant leadership roles in the House in his respective six remaining terms, ensuring the passage of both the 1960 and 1964 Acts.
Fred became disheartened over the course of the 1960’s as the mood in the country became more and more fractious. The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 was a blow to his idealistic mind. However, Fred remained true to his district in his highly vocal criticism of the legalization of marijuana. While criticized as being in the pocket of the beer industry, Fred vigorously maintained that the dangers of marijuana use far exceeded its benefits, medical or otherwise. He pointed to the long and ancient history of beer and wine consumption for both social and culinary purposes, and continuously campaigned for the safe and responsible consumption of beer.
Fred chose not to seek an eighth term in 1970, citing the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King as events that had crippled his idealization to the point of no longer being able to serve. He sought a peaceful retirement in Beertown, and currently resides in the Shady Acres Assisted Living Community, in the neighboring town of Praline.