Frederick Munson was a working man’s entrepreneur who sold lumber and hardware to Otsego County residents for more than half a century. He died Monday at the age of 96.
Munson’s Building Supplies opened on State Highway 7 in the town of Oneonta in 1964; Audrey, Munson’s wife, served as the bookkeeper and a manager. She predeceased him in 2014.
Children Steven, Michael, Shirley, and Shirley’s husband, Bob Goble, now share ownership of the store, and Munson is also survived by a second daughter, Kathleen.
“She guided Dad and kept him under control when things were rough,” Michael said of his parents’ partnership.
Growing up through the Great Depression and on his parents’ Meridale dairy farms instilled a lifelong ethic of hard work in Munson, his sons said.
“Fred’s wood” was cut each morning and sold at the storefront into his 90’s, and Fred still came to the store every day until this spring.
Before serving in the Army during World War II, where he was stationed in the Philippines, Munson started Truck Gardening, a dairy, chicken and vegetable delivery service. He then delivered the eggs of 700 lay chickens door-to-door with his friend Ed Shultis. After returning home, he began one of the first fuel oil delivery services in the area and later sold the business.
When a cousin abandoned plans to build the Emmons Roller Rink in the 1950s, Munson took on the business. After roller skating went out of vogue, a friend convinced Munson to go into the lumber business.
The store and lumber business has been a family affair; Steven helped the shop join the True Value buying group to add hardware, making Munson’s more of a home center. Shirley did deliveries, and the brothers continue to work in the store.
A fire in 1979 razed the original 6,000 sq. foot building, and it was rebuilt to add a showroom and storage area.
“He was well-known in the working community,” Mike said. “A simple upbringing kept him a common man.”
“He thought he was retired but I don't think I ever did,” Steve said. “That's how our entire family got our work ethics.”
Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .