Frederick Fey, known to everyone as Tommy and youngest brother of Melfred Fey, who was featured in Glimpse on February 7, 2018, preceded his brother in death on January 5, 2017. Tommy was born May 24, 1944, to Anita and Ben Fey. He graduated from Central Catholic High School and served in the Texas Air National Guard. And, like his father and brother, Melfred, Tommy’s lifelong passion was farming.
Tommy began farming alongside his father on Kinney Road, east of U.S. 81 (which became IH 35 South). In the early days these Fey men farmed vegetables. Tommy eventually transitioned to raising milo, corn, wheat, oats, and peanuts. During peanut harvest season, Tommy and other farmers like Robert Kurz of Somerset, Ky Maske of Lytle, and Dob James and Sons of Somerset often worked together in getting the crops in. Tommy’s son, Billy, recalls that harvesting peanuts was “a dust-eating adventure” until Tommy had the opportunity to use tractors lent to him from the Ford Tractor Test Fleet out of Somerset. Ford lent these tractors to area farmers as part of their testing experiment. Billy recalls, “This made harvesting more tolerable.”
Tommy wanted his children to work alongside him, but he was quite adamant that they all get an education rather than depend on farming for a livelihood. Billy and Sara especially liked to work with their dad. Billy relates that when he was just a toddler, he liked to ride with his dad on the tractor, but he had to be tied on so he wouldn’t fall off when he fell asleep! As he got older, he helped with harvesting, irrigating, plowing, and working on all the equipment. Sara loved to help with the hay operation. She recalls that when she and her husband, Frankie Kauffmann, gave birth to twins, Tommy offered to build a double car seat on the tractor so Sara could continue to bale hay with him!
In addition to farming, Tommy raised cattle and ranched until a ranching accident caused him to lose an eye. In his later years, he transitioned to custom hay bailing. A self-made mechanical engineer, Tommy was known to custom build his own grain trucks, planters, cultivators, spray rigs, fertilizer rigs, etc. He even built a conveyor shaker rig to help knock off the excess dirt and mud during a rainy season. But, because dry years far exceeded wet ones, Tommy had a well drilled on the Homestead, and that provided dependable irrigation. From this well, Tommy irrigated the home place and two adjacent farms.
Irrigation was important to Tommy. The family farm was situated within the Bexar/Medina/Atascosa (BMA) water district, so Tommy had a vested interest in its operation. He was elected to the BMA Water District Board of Directors for District 1 in May of 2002. Serving the district for some 15 years, Tommy oversaw some of its biggest projects, including the implementation of employee benefits and retirement, the rehabilitation of Medina Dam, the building of Pearson Lake, the renovation of Chacon Lake, and the conservation and piping of the district. Upon his death, Tommy was serving as the board’s president. (Leader News, Lytle, Texas)
Tommy and his wife, Marion DeCock Fey, married on May 7, 1966. They were happy to have celebrated 50 years of marriage before his death. The couple raised four children. Their oldest, Pamela Frazier, is a retired NSISD teacher. Pam’s husband, Randall, is a crane operator. Billy and Marion’s second child and only son, William “Billy”, is a civil engineer and works for San Antonio’s CPS. He is married to Southwest ISD Assistant Superintendent, Jo Ann Hacker Fey. Tommy and Marion’s third child and second daughter, Donna Fey Bachle, owns a beauty shop in Somerset. Her husband, Jerome, worked for many years for Holt Machinery, but he is now self-employed and works on heavy-duty equipment. The couple’s fourth child and third daughter, Sara Fey Kauffmann, works at Southwest Research where she manages a gym as a personal trainer. Sara’s husband, Frankie, has worked for Hondo Ag for many years.
Tommy is also survived by nine grandchildren; and all of the family, as well as anyone else who knew him, attest of Tommy’s character, integrity, and faith, always leading his family to mass at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in La Coste, Texas.