Obituaries: The Neptune Society of Northern California Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008 http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20081023/obits/81023036...
Fred Sukovitzen refused to abandon his pacifist beliefs and fight in World War II, even when it meant getting arrested by the FBI.
Sukovitzen, a Forestville resident for nearly 58 years, was raised by Armenian parents who were members of the Molokan community, a pacifist Christian group that originated in what is now Russia.
"They have very strong views about pacifism and were historically against going to war and killing people," son Darrell Sukovitzen of Forestville said. "On points of principle, he stuck to his guns."
Fred Sukovitzen died Sept. 6 of pneumonia at the age of 96.
He was born in San Francisco and attended school in Placer County until he was 15 years old, and went to college in San Francisco. [See Cogswell Polytechnical College, below.]
When peers ran to enlist in World War II, Sukovitzen wrote a letter to the U.S. War Department, classifying himself as a a conscientious objector.
In a recorded oral history, Sukovitzen said he told the judge at trial, "I'm not objecting to anyone who goes to war. I'm just exercising my democratic right to not go to war."
"The judge rapped his gavel and sentenced him to 18 months at McNeil Island Federal Prison in Washington," Darrell Sukovitzen said.*
The struggle to get decent work wages for prisoners led to a fight between the prison warden and Sukovitzen, who refused to labor as a machinist for three cents an hour and sign an agreement to not strike.
"The warden pulled him out of the general population and placed him in solitary confinement for 10 months," Sukovitzen said. "He didn't want a rabble-rouser like my dad giving anyone else ideas."
In 1948, Sukovitzen married the late Doris Sukovitzen, a widowed mother with two children. The family purchased 20 acres in Forestville on Martinelli Road, where Sukovitzen built a home.
He worked as a machinist, a tool and die maker and union carpenter for Local 751 and worked on San Francisco projects such as the BART on Market Street and the Bank of America headquarters.
In the spirit of pacifism, Sukovitzen never used force to discipline his children.
"All he would have to do was cringe at me and that hurt more than any whupping. It felt like the world would cave in," his son recalled.
Sukovitzen donated time as a volunteer carpenter making custom furniture for children with disabilities for organizations such as the Earl Baum Center of the Blind, Steele Lane annex school, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Rosa and United Cerebral Palsy.
In addition to his son, Sukovitzen is survived by stepson Charles Flannery of Los Angeles, stepdaughter Donna Faylor of Santa Rosa, 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great-grand children.
A memorial service will be held at noon Nov. 8 at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave. in Santa Rosa.
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