Freddie Lee Bottemiller was born in The Dalles, Oregon to Vera and Charles Bottemiller on July 17, 1930. He was the second of three brothers and grew up in Portland, where he would meet the love of his life in grade school. Joyce took notice of Fred right off, as he was famously late to school and would fall asleep in class. She was curious and soon realized that his incredible work ethic started young, with a paper route before school in the early morning and then working in the crops after school and on the weekends picking hops. He got work by standing on the corner of the street, waiting for the farmers to pick him and his brothers up and take them to their fields. 

Fred attended Oregon State and joined the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha where he would meet and keep many close friends over the years. He enrolled in the pharmacy program and along the way, inspired many to join him on his journey, including his brother Ron and Joyce’s brother Norm, who all became roommates and eventual pharmacists. His brother, Ron Bottemiller, owned Ron’s Villa Pharmacy in McKinleyville.

Fred graduated in 1952 and married Eleanor ‘Joyce’ Larson. He started his pharmacy career working in Portland, but it was not long before he was recruited to California to work for a pharmacy in Ukiah. A couple years later, he got a call from Ross Barnes who was looking for someone to join him at Barnes Drug Store in Arcata, so they decided to move and settle into life in Humboldt County. He eventually purchased Barnes Drug Store and operated a successful business on the Arcata plaza until a fire in 1978, which forced him to relocate up G Street. Fred worked and was also a co-owner at Mad River Hospital Pharmacy and Willow Creek Pharmacy. His nephew, Craig Sumner, eventually took over Barnes Drug store and nephew, Brian Bottemiller, relocated and moved to Willow Creek to take over that pharmacy, further highlighting his mentorship and inspiration to many.

Fred and Joyce had three children, Karen, Craig, and Cary ‘Jay’. The family enjoyed many weekends spending time together, boating, water skiing and camping in Big Lagoon, Trinity Lake, and Richardson’s Grove.

Fred was an involved member in the Arcata community and many remember being able to take part in work-study through Arcata High that allowed them to learn about the drug store business. Fred and Joyce were very active with Faith Lutheran Church in Arcata where he taught Sunday school for many years and gave occasional sermons while Joyce played the organ.

Fred and Joyce built a cabin in Willow Creek, which became a hub for family gatherings and parties. They both loved to travel and were fortunate to visit many countries throughout the world and spend winters in Mesa, Arizona as “snow birds.” He will be fondly remembered as a genuine, caring, and generous man, who was the life of the party and always had a joke to tell.

Fred passed away peacefully in his Willow Creek home on July 3, 2019. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Joyce, sons Craig and Jay, and brothers Ron and Chuck. He is survived by his daughter, Karen Jackson, three grandchildren Jenny Bowen (Greg), Justin Jackson, and Ryan Jackson (Josie) and three great grandchildren Ashlyn, Taylor, and Boyd. He is also survived by many caring cousins, nieces, nephews and family members.

The family would like to invite anyone who knew and loved him to a celebration of his life on Saturday, August 17 at 11 a.m. at the Lutheran Church in Arcata.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Fred’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.