Many gave some, Mr. Fred gave all!

Mr. Fred Porfilio shouting slogans through a mega-phone, during a TFP Street Campaign.

In Memoriam: Frederick V. Porfilio

by Mr. Joseph Ferrara

20 Years Later

1939 – 1990

“Our Lady loves us!” In the moments when the daily routine was the most difficult, one could often hear these words escaping the lips of fellow TFP member, Frederick Vincent Porfilio, better know as “Mr. Fred.” He had a keen notion of man’s contingency and the need of an unlimited confidence in the maternal solicitude and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mr. Fred was born of Italian immigrants in New York on September 28, 1939 and lived most of his life in the Bronx. He was a man of many talents and tried his hand at several professions. He was a taxi cab driver, carpenter, Army paratrooper, bartender and even an actor. The fact that he never persevered in any of them was a sure sign that Providence had other designs for this soul that would one day selflessly dedicate itself to the cause of defending Christian civilization.

Mr. Fred's military patches and insignias from his days as an Army paratrooper.

When Mr. Fred met The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in 1975, he had already discerned the emptiness of everything the world had to offer him. Like the prodigal son returning to his father’s house, he left the world behind to embrace once again the Faith of his ancestors.

He once confided to me that, when he was aspiring to an acting career, he had to put on airs to impress the “talent sharks.” Seeing the hypocrisy in this, Mr. Fred resolved one evening to tell his would-be mentors what he really thought of them, thus closing the door forever on his acting career. Many years later, Mr. Fred would put his acting skills to good use in plays and skits for friends, youth and supporters at TFP conferences.

Mr. Fred stood out for his readiness and dedication to the many duties required of TFP members. He excelled in street campaigning and could always be counted on to shout slogans, sell magazines or distribute fliers. He was also ready to travel across the country and back when duty called.

Among his many talents were his carpentry skills. He made everything from beds to kneelers and even a huge medieval banquet table. As every good Italian, he was often found in the kitchen providing a tasty repast.

Guinness World Book certificate presented to Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) for its record 5.3 million signatures in defense of Lithuanian Independence.

In the last years of his life, Mr. Fred stood out for his leadership qualities. He was asked to lead a “caravan,” a group of young volunteers, which would travel the country in a massive petition drive collecting signatures for the independence of Lithuania. In 1990, Lithuania sought freedom from the tyranny of Soviet communism. In a worldwide effort, the TFPs collected more than five million signatures, across five continents, in what the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records termed the largest verifiable petition drive in history.

During this singular campaign initiative, the TFP caravans put in many miles and exhausting hours driving and visiting cities all across America. The caravans in the United States alone collected more than 800,000 signatures. During the long days, and the nights, the members were giving their all.

During this campaign, Mr. Fred was an example of dedication and enthusiasm. It was also at the height of this true service to Christian civilization that Divine Providence called Mr. Fred through a tragic car accident. On September 3, 1990, Mr. Fred died as a passenger in a van that accidentally went off the road and turned over in Tennessee.

God also called to Himself a young member of the caravan, Daryl Huang, who was the son of Chinese immigrants and was most dear to Our Lady in the short service he rendered to her cause.

On the twentieth anniversary of their deaths, The American TFP, its friends and supporters remember these two valiant souls and make their own the words and sentiments of TFP founder Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira who considered them as “two lilies that Our Lady harvested from the garden of the American TFP.”

Members of TFP delegation presenting (then) Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis with a parchment documenting TFP's monumental effort for his country.

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6 comments

  1. samuel J. Gallaher’s avatar

    How could I forget our dear Mr. Fred! When I frist met Mr. Fred he served as a type of host for we visitors, and when I moved out to New York, he was the go to guy.
    I recall with a certain sense of humor, when my uncle came out to visit myself, Mr. Fred took my uncle into New York to all the religious sites, not realizing my uncle was not of the Catholic branch of the family. Mr. Fred was a bit embarrassed but my uncle told me he really enjoyed it. And after he returned home he often ask about Mr. Fred, the short time he had with Mr. Fred had a real inpact on him.
    In the corner of my bedroom sits a peice of furniture known as the Fred Bed. When I moved out to New York Mr. Fragelli ask Mr. Porfilio to build a bed for our Mr. Gallaher. And he did a good job I’ve used it for a quater century and it is still as good as the day it came out of the shop. My cat has even put her seal of approval on the Fred Bed.
    I could write a book about Mr. Fred but I better stop for now – OUR LADY LOVES US!!!

  2. Jacques’s avatar

    Mr Fred was very kind to both me and my father. He was warm and genuine.
    When I would visit back in 1987 and 88 he was always like a member of the family.
    He drove my father around to some Italian markets in NYC (my father studied cooking in Florence).
    He was the type of person who one liked to be around. He seemed to love people and Our Lady. To me at least, he represented the Catholic warmth that we all should try to show each other.

  3. normanjude’s avatar

    Great story Mr. Gallaher. The fact that your uncle liked the trip, in spite of the Catholic bent, is a great indicator of Mr. Fred’s capacity to win people over. Speaking of beds I actually have Mr. Fred’s own bed which he made as well. It has served me well for almost as long. Jacques I agree completely with your comments about his “Catholic warmth”. All you had to do was enter the house where he lived and see his big smile and the offer for a cup of cuafee, with his wonderful New York accent and it brightened your day. He is sorely missed.

  4. CARLOS DORIA’s avatar

    I REMEMBER HIM.HE WAS REALLY A GOOD MAN,ALWAYS READY FOR OUR LADY WISHES.
    REST IN PEACE

  5. Allen Bandril’s avatar

    Mr. Fred was a person who is like a father to me during my stay at the old estate of the American TFP at Mt. Kisco, NY. I felt his strong devotion to Our Lady and sincerity of heart that I always thought of him as a soul very very close to sanctity. Whenever I had a chance to talk to him, I would just ask him to tell me any story, long or short. Most of it would be about Our Lady’s virtues and Her love for her children.
    We miss you dearly Mr. Fred. Pray for us in heaven.

  6. Earl Appleby, Jr.’s avatar

    When the Holy Bible speaks of the duty of Christians to be the salt of the world, how can I not think of my brother in Mary, dear Mr. Fred?

    His plain salt was strong, just as his heart–oversized like a saint’s–was warm and pure. He often picked me up on my visits to the seat when it was in New York. I remember when we would stop in some roadside diner, always a local place, never the impersonal commerce of the Revoltion, how he would show his Christlike love for those behind the counter, so often forgotten or abused. Fred in this sense was a man of the people. In the world but not of the world, for above all he was a son of Our Mother. And when she called him to Her Son, this world’s loss was heaven’s gain. Our love is with you, dear brother, help us to be more like you.

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