The Obit For Fred Laningham

Fred Hagen Laningham Jr.
1939 - 2011

Published in Bakersfield Californian on May 22, 2011

Fred Hagen Laningham Jr. of Bakersfield succumbed to a chronic illness on May 16, 2011, at the age of 72 years.

He is survived by his wife, Carol Craver Laningham. The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage on May 10, 2011 along with the families of his son Fred (wife: Laura, children: Haley, Hunter, Hagen Laningham; and daughter Lisa Laningham Absher. (Husband: Michael Absher; children: Nicholas, Christopher, Matthew Sakowski, and Courtney and Caitlin Absher).

Fred was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1939 and grew up in nearby Ebensberg, PA. This Appalachian coal mining town was very small and simple and he developed many long lasting friendships that he enjoyed into his elder years.

He became best known in his hometown community as an outstanding ball player and a power hitting catcher in the American Legion Leagues of that era. After graduating from Cambria High School in Ebensberg at the age of sixteen, Fred attended the University of Pittsburgh on baseball scholarship and graduated in 1960.

Fred signed a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960 and played minor league baseball for three seasons from 1960-1962. In 1961, he was assigned to play with the Bakersfield Bears, a C League affiliate of the Phillies, and had his best minor league seasons with them from 1961-1962. He played 128 games for the Bears with 365 at bats (batting average .235) with 33 extra base hits including 12 home runs and 57 RBIs. As a catcher for the Bears his fielding percentage was 0.980 in two seasons. He loved baseball and has passed that passion on to his family.

Fred married his Pennsylvania sweet heart Carol Jean Craver in Bakersfield during the 1961 Bear's baseball season, and the two decided to make Bakersfield their permanent home. Carol worked as a registered nurse in many of the local hospitals and Fred took a teaching/coaching position at Bakersfield High School in 1962, the beginning of a 38 year career with the Kern High School District.

Fred was the first head baseball coach at West High School, a position he took in 1965. He taught physical education, biology and science and eventually served as a West High School guidance counselor. He earned a Master's Degree in Education from Cal Poly,San Luis Obispo. There is no doubt that teaching and counseling were his great passions. He was most proud of his interactions and support of high school students and the privilege of sharing in their lives.

After retiring from coaching men's baseball in the 80's, he coached girl's softball for one year at West High School. The final working years of his career with the Kern High School District were spent at the newly opened Stockdale High School where he spent 8 years as a guidance counselor.

Fred will be missed by more than just his family and a "celebration of life" service is planned for June 4, 2011, at the DeMello center on the West High School Campus at 10am. All those who knew Fred and wish to share in this celebration are welcome!

Immediately following the service, a BBQ at the Varsity Baseball Field (which he helped to design) will be held in his honor.

Our family would like to thank the nursing and medical staff at San Joaquin Memorial Hospital; with special thanks to Drs. Hansa, Strategos, Joshi, Lee and the San Joaquin Hospitalists who provided his care.

We would also like to thank the Pegasus Dialysis Center with special thanks to Dr. McCauley, and to Patrick and Shawnee for their friendship and compassion given to our husband/father.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that his friends and/or supporters of West High School and the Kern High School District consider a tax deductible contribution to a scholarship fund being created in Coach Laningham's name. The scholarship will go annually to a West High School Baseball Student athlete that plans to attend college.

(Donations may be made to the "Coach Fred Laningham Memorial Scholarship Fund; c/o Kern Schools Federal Credit Union located at 6101 Coffee Rd. Bakersfield, CA 93308)