Visitation at Funeral Home
Obituary of Frederick Smith Wilder
CANTON Frederick Smith Wilder, 89, of Canton & Sun City West, AZ died in the comfort of his
home on Father’s Day, Sunday June 21st, 2015. He was the beloved husband of Barbara
Theobald Rich, and the late Florence (Sally) Greene, who died in 1969.
Mr. Wilder was born on October 10th, 1925 in Essex Junction, VT, to the late Orville E.
and Dorothy Julia Smith Wilder. The evening of and day following his birth are recorded as
seeing some of the earliest, heaviest snow in Vermont history. In 1927, his family moved to
Canton where he graduated from the Canton Public School in June, 1943. Following
graduation, he volunteered for the Army’s “Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Syracuse
University, and based in Auburn, NY. When the ASTP program ended in January, 1944, Mr.
Wilder was put into active duty with the 87th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson, SC, training there
until October, 1944 when the division was sent to England, and in December, to France. Mr.
Wilder was seriously wounded in France (“near the German border” he would later say) on
December 14th, 1944his company’s first day in action. For his service he was awarded the
Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the European Theater Ribbon.
Following his discharge in May 1946, Mr. Wilder returned to Canton and earned a
degree in mathematics from St. Lawrence University in May 1949. He began his career with the
Canton Cooperative Fire Insurance Company, and subsequently joined the Clark Insurance
Agencies in Canton, becoming an ownerpartner of this as well as WilderForsythe Inc. of
Ogdensburg and the Potsdam Insurance Agency.
Mr. Wilder was a staunch advocate and supporter of his community for more than 60
years, serving on the Canton Central School Board for 19 years, 18 of them as President; he
was a lifelong member of Canton United Methodist Church; a longtime member of the Canton
Lions Club, St. Lawrence Golf & Country Club, Briarwood Golf & Country Club of Sun City West,
Arizona, Masonic Lodge, American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was
active in youth sports in Canton, and in the Boy Scouts, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout
as a teen.
His business pursuits continued long into his retirement as he served on the Board of
Directors of the First National Bank of Northern New York, helping to guide it to its merger with
NBT Bank. He also served until his death on the Board of Directors of the Security Mutual
Insurance Company of Ithaca, NY. His business instincts, guidance, ethics, and knowledge
were greatly valued by these firms.
In his leisure time Mr. Wilder enjoyed golfing, shooting two hole’sinone, including his
last at age 80, deer hunting in the Adirondacks as a member of the OutaFit Hunting Club near
Cranberry Lake, NY, and especially his weekly games of bridge with friends. His greatest
passion was his family, helping to raise 10 children and guiding them to successful, community
& family focused lives of their own. His clever, understated sense of humor, unimpeachable
personal ethics, and commitment to his family, church and country will be deeply missed.
Mr. Wilder was blessed with the love of his community, friends, and especially by that of
his wife Barbara and their children. He is survived by his wife Barbara Rich Wilder of Canton,
his brother Harold (Barbara J.) Wilder of Canton, sister Mary (Wesley O.) Bryant of Naples, FL;
children: Thomas O. (Margaret) Wilder of Phoenix, AZ, Kathryn Rich (William) Oscarlece of
Fayetteville, NY, Harold (Jayne) Wilder of Cincinnati, OH, John (Alicia) Rich of Albion, NY,
Richard (Melissa) Wilder of Beacon, NY, Anne Wilder (Joseph) Albert of Cicero, NY, Karen Rich
(Hal) Smith of Windsor, VT, Ronald Wilder of Cortland, NY, Janet Rich of Canton, NY, and
Robert (Leslie) Wilder of Concord, MA; grandchildren: Ian Wilder, Sally Wilder, Benjamin (Katie)
Oscarlece, Stephen Oscarlece, Kevin Oscarlece, Lauren Wilder, Kelly Wilder, Michael Wilder,
Chelsea Rich (Chris) Plummer, Arielle Rich (Mike) Tucker, Anna Rich (Will) Waller, Katie Rich,
Grace Rich, Nicole Wilder, Alison Wilder, Bradley (Michelle) Albert, Elissa Smith, Shannon
Smith, Thomas Frederick Wilder, Zachary O. Wilder, Carrie Wilder, Carmen Romanelli, John
Romanelli, and Samantha Wilder; greatgrandchildren James Frederick Oscarlece, Isaiah
Plummer, Lianna Plummer, Ellie Tucker, and Paxton Albert.
Calling hours are scheduled for Wednesday, June 24th, from 24pm and 68pm at the
Lawrence Funeral Home, 21 Park St in Canton. Services are scheduled for Thursday, June
25th, 10:00am, at the Canton United Methodist Church, Rev. William Hart officiating. The family
has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be made to the Frederick S.
Wilder Scholarship award, annually recognizing a graduate of Canton High School, ℅ the CCS
District Treasurer, State St. Canton, 13617, or to the Canton United Methodist Church Memorial
Fund, 41 Court St., Canton 13617.