Lighthouse 02

Captain Fred R. Bockmiller

July 13, 1931 ~ August 29, 2020 (age 89)


Frederick Richard Bockmiller was always full of life and the love of adventure.  He was a Master of Sail, and well known in Newport Beach for his beautiful sloop Hidalgo, the sole example of a Kettenburg 46.  Winning the 1989 Newport to Ensenada Race in the Ancient Mariner Class, he had hundreds of friends sail with him on Hidalgo through his Big Orange Sailing Society.  He sold Hidalgo in 2013 and the new owner has continued her race winning tradition.  Among dozens of other boats that he owned or managed, was the beautiful schooner Tiercel.  As a Yacht Broker, he handled yachts of all types, also doing deliveries up and down the Coast and to Mexico.  

He became Captain of the Boy Scouts Sail Training Vessel Argus in 1979, remaining in that position until Argus was retired from the service in 2006.  He was Captain when the famous rescue of a diver lost at sea occurred in 2004.  This event brought Argus national attention and the story was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show.  He was fast friends with the diver, Dan Carlock, for the rest of his life.

Born in Cleveland right in the middle of the Great Depression, he began working at a young age and finished high school at night. Seeing an opportunity for education in technology, he joined the Air Force and completed basic and advanced training just in time to fly over to the Korean War.  After a year in Korea supporting and crewing with the 452nd bomb wing, he returned, via a troop ship, to San Francisco, and then on to Texas to train officer candidates in electronics.  Honorably discharged from service in 1954, he never looked back.  He left for a life of adventure and trying different things.

He bought a red convertible and drove to Mexico, studied at the University of Mexico City for a time, and then learned to SCUBA dive in Acapulco.  Moving back to the US, he lived for a time in Manhattan Beach, and was an inspector for Douglas Aircraft. He studied pre-medicine in Los Angeles.  Though accepted to the USC Dental School, he decided not to pursue it.  He then went to study and briefly play football at the brand new UC Santa Barbara, where he was invited to crew on some of the gorgeous yachts in the harbor.  This became the passion of his life.  He took up life in Newport Beach where there were many boats needing work.  Known as Fearless Fred he would work on the tallest masts in the harbor.  In the early 1970’s he was captain for a number of clients in the Bay Area. Always on the lookout for an opportunity or unique experience, he worked as an electrician on the American Freedom Train, in 1976, touring the country for the Bicentennial.

Meeting through mutual friends, he fell in love and married Jacqueline A. Emert.  They had two children Fred Jr. and Tim.  Sadly, their life together was cut short by her death in November 1976.  Captain Bockmiller never married again.  He is survived by his sons, his daughter-in-law Christina, his brothers Fred G., and Lyn, his sister Kathleen Byrne Wilber, and many nieces and nephews.  His sister Dorothy and brother Christopher preceded him in death. He loved life and had many longtime friends, which he kept up with by phone and mail until the last week of his life.

The Captain was a very kind man and he supported many charitable causes including the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Wetlands Wildlife Center, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and others.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Captain Fred R. Bockmiller, please visit our floral store.


September 16, 2020

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Brown Colonial Mortuary
204 W. 17th St.
Santa Ana, California 92706

Funeral Mass
September 17, 2020

10:00 AM
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
1441 W. Balboa Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92661

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