Teacher, musician, poet, outdoorsman, minister. Born Nov. 13, 1946, in Toronto. Died Sept. 2, 2011, in Orillia, Ont., of cancer, aged 64.
Fred Joblin’s older brother, Doug, once called him “the tie-dyed member of a family of black sheep.”
Frederick Alan Joblin was born into a traditional family, one of four children of Audrey and Fred Sr., an ordained minister. The ingredients of his younger years included such diverse sports and athletics as competitive gymnastics and hockey, and his first great love: his mother’s chocolate chip cookies, of which he always snagged three instead of the two allowed.
At first, Fred followed his father and uncle in studying theology at Emmanuel College in Toronto. By his graduation, he had met and married his life partner, Kathie Stephen. Instead of pursuing ordination, Fred launched his quest to find his vocation. His search took him to Europe, Canada, California and back to Canada. His was a life in which social convention played little part. He tried many occupations, but his most frequent roles involved teaching. Fred being Fred, he pursued his calling in unusual paths. From a private school and tutoring in California to teaching college courses in Ontario to working as a church staff associate in Orillia, Fred taught everyone he met.
One thread woven through Fred’s life was the music he made on his beloved guitar. He wrote comic songs, songs to well-known poetry, and religious songs. As he grew and changed, so did his music, evolving from entertainment to expressing deeper thoughts and feelings.
Another thread was love of family life. Fred and Kathie created a uniquely open-ended home for their son, Ted. This close-knit family of three, all fine musicians, took the stage in numerous performances, and many songs they performed were Fred’s.
His passion for the outdoors led to many years of fishing and making his own maple syrup.
Over the past year, two long-cherished projects came to life. One was the first performance of Journey to Freedom, with Fred’s words and music. Creating this piece, half musical show, half cantata, occupied Fred for many years. The other project was a CD entitled Songs of the Spirit. Here, John Wesley Oldham supplied poetry while Fred composed the music.
As the CD neared completion, Fred was stricken with cancer. Rather than battle against his illness or surrender to it, Fred made friends with the cancer, and accepted it. He compulsively poured out his reflections on paper, filling many pages. Sharing his writings on his website drew all who read his thoughts into this spiritual journey.
Fred died at home, but his story doesn’t end there. In his music, Fred still teaches us that a laughing spirit and a kindly heart are gifts to share. As Fred’s music and words spread in wider circles, we see that his death marks a new beginning for everyone who knew him.
Ken Stephen is Fred’s brother-in-law.
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