PVT Fred H. Tolar
Company I, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Army
KIA 9/20/44 of wounds sustained 9/19/44
Near Schlausenbach, Germany
-- Cindy Tolar Schierling --
Fred H. Tolar (Frederick Henry) was born in Kingman, Kansas on August 19,
1916, the 10th of 12 children of J.L. and Cora Alpha Tolar. J.L. worked at
many things during his lifetime but was best known for his garden seed and
popcorn business in downtown Kingman. He was a hard worker, and he taught
all his children to be hard workers as well.
Fred grew up in Kingman, where he attended grade school and graduated from
high school in 1934 with a 3.56 grade point average. He was very gifted in
wood working, and while he was in high school he made several pieces of
furniture which my mom or I still have and use. One of these is a long
entry hall table. It was originally used to pile coats on upon
entering the house; this was before the days of entry closets. I use it to
display family pictures in our livingroom. Another piece he made was a
small dropleaf card table with the card suit symbols on it. I am now using
it for a telephone table. I also have an upholstered footstool that he
made; one of his sisters did the needlepoint that covers the top.
Mom is still using a stair-step bedside table that he made. While in high
school, Fred played football and basketball. He was also in glee club and
participated in a class play and operetta during his Jr. and Sr.
After graduation he worked in a small construction company in Kingman
building houses. Later he worked construction on government projects like
the renovation of Fort Riley. He was also a member of the Kingman National
Guard unit, 137th Inf. Co. L, for four years after graduation.
My mother, Alma Louise Schoeneman, also graduated from Kingman High School,
two years behind Dad. She then went on to Kansas State Teachers College in
Emporia but was forced to drop out during her second year because of thyroid
problems, which also affected her heart. It was several months after she
returned home that Fred asked her out for the first time. They had, of
course, known each other in high school, but not well, even though they
lived only 2-3 blocks from each other. Many of their dates were spent driving
his parents to see an older brother, Ralph, and his family in a neighboring town.
Fred also spent many evenings at mom's house playing cards, pickup sticks, and
other games popular then, with mom and her parents. They also went to movies
and drove around in his new Chevy coupe.
It was because he was paying off that car that they didn't have the money to
marry, so they eloped to Colorado Springs and were married Nov. 9, 1938. They
accomplished this while on a trip to visit mom's mom who was on an extended visit
to her sister's home in Las Animas. Afterwards, they told no one about their
marriage, and when they returned to Kingman, Fred continued to live at home with
his parents as did mom while they continued to "date". Finally, on Oct. 13, 1939,
they had a small family wedding in the Christian Church of Kingman and set up
housekeeping. Their first marriage was their secret until mom finally shared
that information with family after dad was killed.
Dad was 5'11" tall, weighed 160 pounds, and had brown wavey hair, grey
eyes, and a fair complexion. Mom remembers that his mother was a wonderful
cook, and when they married, mom described her cooking as abominable. She
is so thankful that Dad never said an unkind word about it but just ate
whatever she set before him. She remembers him as a quiet and shy person
who didn't make friends quickly or easily, a kind and gentle man who was
rarely critical. He loved children, and they hoped to have several, but the
miscarriage of her first pregnancy and the war interfered with that. Mom
tells that after I was born, Dad was so proud that he could barely stand to
have anyone else hold me -- and then not for long. She is sure I would have
loved my Daddy because he loved me so much. It didn't even faze him when I
spit up all over his face one day as he was holding me up over his head.
Mom and Dad were living in Claremore, OK when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and
Dad immediately tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps, but during the physical,
his blood pressure shot up, disqualifying him. Mom figures that happened
because he wanted it so badly and was nervous at the time. She's probably
right because my blood pressure acts in exactly the same way. Knowing he
would be inducted, they moved back to Kingman to be near family.
Fred registered for the draft Oct. 16, 1940 and actually entered service
Sept. 17, 1943, less than five months after I, their only child, was born.
He was sent to Camp Blanding, GA for basic training before being moved to
Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He was home on leave in March, 1944, and in April
shipped out for England and further training. His training was in heavy
weapons --mortars-- but July 18, 1944 he joined the 4th Inf. Div. 12th Reg.
I Co. as a replacement in a rifle company. He was on combat duty from then
until his death and participated in the liberation of Paris. On Sept. 19,
1944 Fred sustained serious injuries from artillery shell fragments near
Schlausenbach, Germany. One vetern from his company suggested to me that
the shrapnel that wounded him could very well have come from a tree burst
since they were in a forested area at the time. Fred died of his wounds
Sept. 20, 1944, before he could be evacuated to a hospital.
Mom received the report of his wounding in October but was not notified of
his death until Nov. 23. On Sunday Nov. 26, 1944, there was a memorial
service for him in the Christian Church of Kingman. He was originally
buried in temporary cemetery Fosse #1, Belgium -- Plot K Row 10 Grave 192,
but the family later had him moved to the family plot in the Walnut Hill
Cemetery in Kingman. He was buried there in April of 1949.
During my search for information, I wrote the chaplain of dad's outfit,
George Knapp, to see if he remembered my dad. He didn't, but upon checking
his files, he found two letters from my mom inquiring about my dad because
she hadn't heard from him in so long. There were also two pictures that she
had sent. Rev. Knapp copied those things and sent them to me. One of the
pictures turned out to be of my dad with me taken during his last home leave
and was much better than other pictures mom had taken during that leave. I
had it enlarged to a 5 x 7 and have it on my desk where I see it daily.