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Frank Dutton Kittredge of Easton, Maryland, died peacefully in his sleep at home on January 10, 2024. He was 92.
Frank was born on January 21, 1931, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Charles James Kittredge and Elizabeth Colt Dutton Kittredge. He was the youngest of four brothers and the first to be born in a hospital. Growing up in Dalton, Massachusetts, Frank showed at an early age great aptitude in sports, particularly in skiing and ice hockey. He often recounted stories of the difficulties of traveling to Vermont ski areas in the ’40s and ’50s with older brothers and cousins, and he became known as “peg leg” due to his style of legs and skis tight together as he came down the slopes. He skied well into his 80s despite two broken legs along the years, which the x-rays of the first were used by his orthopedist as an example of one of the worst breaks he had ever seen.
His skills at ice hockey were formed against his brothers on Berkshire ponds while attending the Dalton Grammar School. Then on to The Hotchkiss School in 1944 and Yale University in 1948, where as a defenseman on the 1952 hockey team he fought in the final at the National Championship. He scored two goals, one against opponent Colorado, and one own goal which, he said, kind of evened things out. They lost. Still, the team ended up a respectable third, a performance unequalled at Yale for 61 years. At Yale he was tapped for Skull and Bones, as well as Fence Club. Frank graduated in 1952 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Despite working summers and holidays in the family paper company of Crane and Company, being a great-great-grandson of the founder, and having multiple cousins and siblings in the business, Frank instead bucked the system and chose General Electric in Pittsfield to start his work career. He spent two years there in the training program, but with the Korean War draft looming he enlisted in the Navy OCS program and was commissioned an Ensign, assigned to the aircraft carrier Hancock. After service in Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, he moved to Newport, Rhode Island, as a 1st Lieutenant to teach at the Officer Candidate School for two years. While his active service ended in 1958 with a return to GE in Schenectady, New York, he remained on the reserve list until 1968, discharged as a Lieutenant JG.
Frank’s career at GE spanned 36 years in marketing and management, where he rose from salesman in the steam power division to finish as Vice President in charge of the Asia Pacific Division (headquartered in Singapore), and Vice President of the Power Systems International Operations. He served as chairman of the U.S.-ASEAN Center for Technology Exchange, and a director on the Singapore Trade Development Board. Along the way assignments took him to Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, and Asia. With GE Frank was one of the first business people to re-engage with China after President Nixon’s historic visit. In typical GE fashion, all of this involved moving house at least nine times.
Frank was not finished after retiring from GE in 1989, however, and spent another 12 years as President of the National Foreign Trade Council, a lobbying organization in Washington, D.C. During his tenure there he served also as Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE and as a member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. On behalf of U.S. business he worked closely with Presidents, Congress, the Commerce and State Departments, and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. Many of his close friends were often surprised to hear him being interviewed on National Public Radio or see him on CNBC. One of the NFTC’s major achievements during his presidency was a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Natsios V. National Foreign Trade Council, related to states’ ability to restrict foreign trade. The case was decided unanimously in NFTC’s favor. Frank retired from the NFTC in 2001, settling down in Easton.
Frank did finally work for the family company in a way, serving on the Board of Directors of Crane and Company for more than 20 years, and on the Board of Swedish affiliate, Crane AB, for a dozen. Retirement saw him volunteering for Hotchkiss, whether as a fundraiser or class agent, and serving on the Board of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, the Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Maryland, and as Chairman of the Center for Mental Health in Washington. Retirement also allowed him to fully enjoy and share with family his love of the water, honed early in one-design racing in Marblehead, Massachusetts, when he worked in the Lynn offices of GE, during offshore races to Bermuda and Halifax, and cruising on the Chesapeake, which clearly had an influence on where he retired. Easton saw a succession of sail and power boats, particularly a 42-foot Cheoy Lee for which Frank, an amateur architect, designed and re-designed the interior until it met his standards.
Family cannot forget his ability to craft clever poems for business and family celebrations, a trait he shared with his father and brothers. At the time of his death he was working on preparing some 100-plus for publication. And finally, there was his somewhat surprising love of motor-home camping, with the most memorable trip being a winter ski excursion in a Winnebago carrying two adults, seven children, and two dogs.
Frank is survived by wife of 54 years, Dorothy Joan Gray [Knauss] Kittredge, his three children Frank D. Kittredge, Jr. and his wife Cynthia Briggs Kittredge of Austin, Texas, John B. Kittredge and his wife Donna Jeanne Kittredge of Windsor, Massachusetts, and Laura Kittredge Parker and her husband Tim Parker of Eagle Vail, Colorado; his seven grandchildren, Rachel Kittredge of Austin, Texas, Emily Kittredge and her husband, Vincent Vasquez, of Austin, Texas, Henry Kittredge and his wife, Laura Jalalian, of Venice, California, Sam Kittredge of Worcester, Massachusetts, Max Kittredge of Orlando, Florida, Holly Parker of London, England, and Charlotte Parker of Vail, Colorado; Joan’s four children, Karen Knauss Schoem and her husband David of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Eric Knauss of Palm Beach, Florida, Page Knauss of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Curt Knauss and his wife Kingsley of Manasqan, New Jersey; Joan’s five grandchildren, Adina Schoem and her husband Joseph Vainner, Shayna Schoem and her husband Garrett Schumann, Christine Knauss, Eric C. Knauss, and Avery Knauss; and Joan’s four great-grandchildren, Noa and Talia Schoem Vainner, and Isaac and Gerals Schumann. Frank was predeceased by his three brothers, Charles James [Jim] Kittredge, Gilbert Dutton [Gib] Kittredge and John Kittredge, and by Joan’s granddaughter, Kaitlyn Knauss. Frank is also survived by his first wife, Barbara Bradshaw Kittredge, of Marblehead, Massachusetts.
There will be a memorial service at Christ Church Episcopal in Easton, Maryland at 11 am on Saturday February 17, 2024. Burial will be in Dalton, Massachusetts on Saturday, June 1, 2024.