Fred A. Zak was born in Eureka on June 12, 1949. He passed away in Eureka on May 11.

He grew up in Eureka, in the neighborhood around 16th and S streets with lifelong friends Jeff Nissen and Dave Ball, enjoying all kinds of sports, especially home run derby whiffle ball, duck hunting along with a few more mischievous activities. He attended Franklin Elementary, Eureka Junior and Senior High Schools, graduating in 1968.

Fred excelled in football and track in high school, where he is remembered for his speed and sure hands as a wide receiver and running the hurdles in track. He went on to play football at CR. He then attended Humboldt, studying environmental health.

During this period of his life, he took time off from studies to work in Lake Tahoe and to move to Green Bay, Wisconsin to experience the cold winters, which he loved, and his favorite team, the Packers. After a couple of years, he returned to the west coast, settling in Portland where he completed an environmental health and safety degree. This led to a job as a health and safety inspector at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Richland, Wash. This was the site of the first full scale plutonium production reactor in the world, and the source of the plutonium used in the first atomic bomb. Fred was involved in the largest environmental cleanup ever undertaken, which is still in progress.

After 10 years of exposure to the hazards at Hanford, Fred moved on to Monroe, Wash. for a job as a safety inspector at the Monroe Correctional Complex, one of the largest prisons in Washington. Fred worked there until he retired in 2017, at which time he returned to Eureka, purchasing his childhood home, where he lived the rest of his life.

Fred never married. He leaves behind a niece, April Hicks and her husband Steve in Boise, Idaho and several lifelong friends, including Jeff Nissen, Larry Matson and Dane Hart, who cared for him in his struggles with cancer over the last couple of years. Fred was preceded in death by his parents, Geri and Tony Zak, his sister Debbie and his stepbrothers, Joe and Jim.

Fred will be remembered as a loyal friend who would do anything for you and a stubborn, determined nature that allowed him to stick to his guns in all situations. You can almost imagine the stories this will lead to when friends gather to celebrate his life over a couple of beers.


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