Frederick George Tellam, known as Fred to his friends and family, passed away in La Jolla on March 31 at the age of 89. Fred is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Patricia; his son, Brad, and daughter-in-law, Sue; his daughter, Nancy Ames; his grandchildren, Kirsten Withrow and Matt; and his great-granddaughter, Caroline Withrow. He also is survived by his brother George and his sisters, Kathryn Starr and Martha Masch. Fred was preceded in death by his parents and stepfather, his sister Joanne Nagel, and his brother Willie.
Fred was born in San Diego on July 11, 1929. He was the son of Mary Sawday Tellam and Frederick Lincoln Tellam; when Fred was young, his father was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. His mother later married his stepfather, Hans Starr. Fred attended the one-room Witch Creek school for eight years followed by Julian Union High School. In 1947, Fred entered Pomona College in Claremont, California. At Pomona, he met the love of his life, Patricia Wilson, along with many lifelong friends. In 1951, he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree and married Pat on June 17 in Arcadia, California. He then began law school at Stanford University. Fred graduated with his Bachelor of Laws in 1954 and was admitted to the California Bar that same year. He then began his military service in Spokane, Washington, as first lieutenant, Judge Advocate in the US Air Force. He and Pat were later stationed in England, where Brad was born in 1957. After his service ended, the Tellams moved to Bakersfield, California, where Fred began working in the County Counsel’s office in 1958.
Their daughter, Nancy, was born in 1961. The family moved back to San Diego and Fred continued his law practice, specializing in real estate transactional work. He worked at Higgs Fletcher & Mack and then co-founded Jones, Tellam, Irving & Estes. After two of his partners accepted judgeships, he became a partner of the firm Tellam, Estes, Duckor & Spradling. During the final years of his career, he and Deborah Bouchoux formed the firm of Tellam & Bouchoux. Fred always said that the friendships he formed with other attorneys even those on the “other side” of a case were greatly valued. He also enjoyed close, long-term relationships with many friends, including Larry Irving and Paul Wells. Fred was an incredible sports fan particularly of the San Diego Chargers and Padres. After retiring, he volunteered at the USO at San Diego Airport and was named “Volunteer of the Year” in 2017. He also volunteered for the RSVP, the Reserve Officer Volunteer Patrol, and served on the County Grand Jury for a year.
Fred’s zest and enthusiasm for life were contagious. He was a voracious reader and loved crossword puzzles especially the hard ones. He and Pat loved to travel, and together saw much of the world, from Israel to Yemen, Amsterdam to Egypt. In later years, they would take their grandchildren to Disneyland. 3-year-old Matt was so taken with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride that he convinced his papa to ride it over and over at least 10 times and Fred never complained! Fred truly treasured his family. He and many of his siblings enjoyed a regular long-standing lunch where they caught up and swapped old stories. Fred saw his children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter, Caroline, the week before he passed. His loved ones will always remember his smile, his energy, his warmth, and his affection.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Apr. 14, 2019