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Frederick Walter Ellsberg

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“Rita, thinking of you and so many fond memories of Fred. Seems so hard to believe that a year has passed. His presence is still so strong. Sending...Read More »
1 of 9 | Posted by: Brian Saltzman - Seattle, WA

“I only met Fred one time at the Ellsberg gathering. He was a delightful man. I am sorry he is gone. ”
2 of 9 | Posted by: Katie Ellsberg Bailey - Sutton, ND

“Fred's quick wit and sense of humor was only surpassed by the genuine and generous kind way he approached life and treated those around him. I feel...Read More »
3 of 9 | Posted by: Brian Saltzman - Seattle, WA

“Hi, Rita. I am Sorry to hear about Fred. Rita I know you are a strong woman. I know he was a wonderful person to be around. You two were wonderful...Read More »
4 of 9 | Posted by: Lucy Morales - Palm Springs, CA

“Rita. Joe and I are so sorry for your loss. We are truly blessed to have had you and Fred as our Palm Desert neighbors. He will be truly missed. We...Read More »
5 of 9 | Posted by: Jane Cox - Paso Robles, CA

“Fred blessed us all with his positive spirit, kindness, humor and keen intellect. I was fortunate to be his grandson, and I learned a lot from him...Read More »
6 of 9 | Posted by: Kevin Caton

“We're introduced to Fred and Rita by my brother & his wife who were friends for decades and we became instant friends due to the kindness and warmth...Read More »
7 of 9 | Posted by: Scott & Bernice McCraw - Redlands, CA

“In life some never had the fortune to have a father or father figure. I was more fortunate than most to have two. ”
8 of 9 | Posted by: Jerry Pira

“Blessings Rita, for being all he needed you to be. You were the light in his life. ”
9 of 9 | Posted by: Bryna Blum - Palm Desert, CA


Fred Ellsberg was a skinny 17-year-old kid from Astoria, NY when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and became one of the many who fought in the South Pacific during World War II. Ever the guy in the spotlight, Fred became a forward radio man, going in front of his troops to search out enemy positions and radio them in to his commander. Finding the morale of his fellow Marines needed a boost, Fred helped develop and star in a variety show which travelled to various locations throughout the theaters of war.

Having caught the acting bug, and upon completing his tour of duty with the Marines, Fred returned to New York and began college at NYU. Soon after, he married Frances Epstein, "the prettiest girl in the neighborhood," and together they had two children, Robin and Susan.

Fred graduated from NYU with a Master's degree in Theater Arts and soon landed a job as an actor, quite literally "behind the scenes," working as a puppeteer. Together with his fellow actors he travelled throughout the United States, rambling along in a makeshift truck loaded with dreams and imagination.
A phone call home ended Fred's short acting career when he learned that he and Frances were expecting a baby, Robin, their first child. With that announcement, his mother-in-law convinced him that "grown men don't play with dolls." Thus began his search for a more lucrative field of work, with acting being pursued only as a hobby during the evening.

A la Johnny Depp, Fred loved hats; he had his husband/father/step-father hat, his soldier hat, his actor/puppeteer hat, his Ad man hat, his NYC cab driver hat, his box maker/assembly line worker hat, his inventor hat, his salesman hat, his importer/exporter hat, and finally, his executive hat. He wore all of these with great aplomb and unconquerable spirit.

Fred's retirement life in the Coachella Valley fulfilled his lifelong dreams. He played tennis (with more enthusiasm than talent), he starred in many community theater productions, and at separate times won awards for best actor and best director.

Fred is survived by his wife and soul mate of 36 years Rita Ellsberg, his daughter Robin and her husband Curtis Caton; his daughter Susan and her husband Charles Johns; his stepchildren Russell Parrish and Kelly Spargur; his grandchildren Laura, Andrew, Mark, Connor, Kira, Collin, Caitlyn, Caleb, Kevin, David, and Curtis; and his many friends who will all cherish his memory and honor his spirit by continuing to enjoy life and memories to the fullest.
We are all so blessed and grateful that Fred came into our lives.