Albert Z. Fresco

07/11/1937 - 01/27/2021

Events

Albert, born in Cairo Egypt in 1937, was the first-born son of a prominent and successful businessman, Isaac Fresco, and his wife Liliane. The family resided in Maadi, a community on the outskirts of Cairo—home to many international expatriates and affluent Egyptians. One of his earliest memories as a young boy was the sound of Allied bombings off in the distance during World War II. Albert’s father emphasized education and provided the finest educational opportunities for Albert. For instance, he attended Victoria College, a British-established public school that provided primary and secondary education for many boys including prominent alumni, such as actor Omar Sharif and King Hussein of Jordan. During the summers, Albert also attended L’Aiglon, an international boarding school in Switzerland. During his time in Egypt, the family enjoyed summer trips to Paris, Geneva, and Rome. Albert also enjoyed the Maadi Sportsman’s Club where he developed his love for tennis and card games. Albert adamantly claimed to have served as a movie extra during the filming of the Ten Commandments. This period in Egypt’s history, especially for affluent Egyptians, reflected a time of hospitality for Jews in this majority Arab country. However, as Albert was finishing his secondary education, a period of political unrest in Egypt was starting. Nasser wrested power away from Egypt’s final monarch, King Farouk. The period of hospitality felt by Jews in Egypt was coming to an end, which would eventually cause all of what Isaac had built to be swept away in the nationalization movement of the time. Albert graduated from Victoria College in 1955. With his parents and younger brother, Alain, remaining in Egypt, Albert set off to England to attend the University of Manchester, where he obtained his PhD in chemical engineering. But more importantly, Manchester is where he met his beloved wife, Marcelle, in 1959. Marcelle had moved from Paris to Manchester swearing to speak only English in hopes of learning the language. However, Albert, who primarily spoke French at home in his youth, stunted her progress as they only spoke French with one another. For Albert, meeting Marcelle was love at first sight. They married in August 1961 and remained together for 57 years until Marcelle passed in 2018. As he was completing his studies in Manchester, Albert interviewed for industry positions with chemical companies and accepted a job with DuPont in the United States. The newlyweds packed their belongings and set sail for Richmond, Virginia on a large ocean liner, the SS France, to begin their life in America. However, during the Atlantic crossing, DuPont sent a cable saying Albert was instead to report to the Experimental Station, in Wilmington, Delaware to work as research engineer in the textile fibers department. Upon arriving in Wilmington, Albert and Marcelle settled in the Monroe Park Apartments where they were reunited with his fellow Egyptian expat and Manchester PhD alumnus, Adly Gorrafa, and his bride, Sheila—who also landed in Wilmington for Adly’s position with DuPont. The circle of friends grew thanks to other DuPont couples and an introduction to the Occidentals, a social club comprised primarily of expats who found themselves in Wilmington. These connections forged the bonds of lifelong friendships for Albert and Marcelle. As the young couple was beginning their life in the US, the political unrest in Egypt complicated the plans they were setting in motion. Albert’s parents and brother were forced to flee Egypt, first to Italy and then to Paris. Six months after the young couple’s arrival in the US, with gratitude for- and duty to his family, Albert helped his parents and brother get settled in Wilmington and enroll Alain in high school. Many nights, Albert would return home from work to offer Alain help with his studies and improve his English. Albert and Marcelle also supported and cared for his parents until their deaths. A few years later, the Fresco family also welcomed two children, David and Brigitte. For their entire young childhood, the children delighted in having their grandparents close by even as Albert’s career relocated the family to new assignments in the South. In 1972, Albert was offered a management position in Chattanooga, Tennessee supervising a research and development group. He worked on DuPont products such as Dacron and Kevlar, and in some instances is named in the patents that DuPont acquired for the work. Here, the family met many dear friends, including Teo and Nancy Sandukas. Beginning in 1978, the Fresco and Sandukas families arranged their summer holidays together to spend a few weeks in Emerald Isle, NC—a tradition that lasted more than 40 years. Albert had enjoyed fishing as a boy on the Red Sea in Egypt, and Teo brought out this lifelong passion in Albert and they would spend hours together fishing on the surf, fishing at piers, and going out on chartered boats for deep sea fishing day trips. Albert loved the beach and in the past two decades enjoyed getting to share it with David’s children, Nick and Maddie. In 1978, Albert accepted a DuPont assignment in Martinsville, Virginia, where the family remained before returning to Wilmington in 1981 for a research and development management position. Because of Albert’s fluency in French, in 1987, he joined DuPont’s fledgling Advanced Materials division—a position requiring numerous business trips to Bordeaux, France. His colleagues were especially grateful when he translated the restaurant menus—sparing them from ordering items such as calf’s brains. Around this time, with the college years looming for his children, Albert took on a second job to supplement his income. Many weeknights and most weekends, Albert translated technical papers and journal articles from French to English. He continued this sidebar work even after retiring from DuPont in 1999. Once retired, and children finished with college, Albert and Marcelle began a new chapter of their lives that emphasized world travel. Their first trip marked Albert’s first time back in Egypt, which coincided with a reunion with his mates from Victoria College. These friends would become his daily correspondents on email nearly every day until his passing. Over the years, he and Marcelle also visited Australia, China, Israel, Peru and Cuba just to name a few locations. In retirement, Albert also rediscovered his love of tennis. He played 2-3 times a week until he was 82 when his knee finally forced him to take a pause. He was seriously contemplating a knee replacement in hopes of returning to the court. Retirement also allowed Albert to take up poker with fellow DuPont retirees. Prior to and into retirement Albert also loved his vegetable garden that always included 36 tomato plants and various other experimental edibles with differing degrees of success. Albert fought many campaigns against the groundhogs who coveted his garden nearly as much as him—sometimes with hilarious results. Albert also rejoiced in spending time with his grandchildren, Nick and Maddie. Nick made annual trips to the beach where he would fish and swim with his Grandpa. Albert and Marcelle would also make trips to Ohio every year for grandparents’ day at Maddie’s school and to watch Maddie perform in her ice-skating show. Albert loved playing games with Nick and Maddie, and in recent years, Nick’s wife, Kayla. Whether it was dominoes, backgammon, or even poker. No matter which game, Albert would always play to win, never giving an inch, even to his grandchildren. Throughout his life, Albert really loved music. His absolute favorite artist was Frank Sinatra. A passenger riding in his car would invariably be delighted by, or subjected to, a steady stream of Sinatra. Given the proximity of Manchester to Liverpool, Albert often insisted that he attended live performances of the Beatles. This claim could never be independently verified, but the Beatles were often the playlist for family car trips. Albert enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres which were reflected in the reel-to-reel mix tapes he painstakingly made and played at the many dinner parties and family gatherings that he and Marcelle would host throughout their lives. An attendee would invariably hear music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Santana, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Chuck Mangione, Shirley Bassey, and many other jazz and popular artists of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Albert was a lifelong early adopter of technology. For instance, throughout the mid-1970s, and known then as “the Pharaoh,” Albert became legendary on multiple channels of citizen band radio throughout southern Tennessee and northern Georgia. Similarly, not wanting to be behind the times, Albert hedged his bets by having both VHS and Betamax video decks. Novelty always trumped nostalgia. The music mix lists never changed, but his reel-to-reel tape deck was replaced by a compact disc player that could hold and play dozens of CDs, and that eventually gave way to an iPad hosting his massive playlist. Albert also made sure we were one of the first families to have a personal computer in the early days and, over the years, gifted a Macintosh computer to each of his children and later, to each of his grandchildren to assist with their college studies. After many years spent as empty nesters, in June 2017, Albert and Marcelle sold their Chadds Ford home of 38 years and moved to Maris Grove, an active life retirement community. They reunited with many old friends and made even more new friends. Albert continued to play tennis and poker at the club, but also organized new poker games at Maris Grove, which grew into a 5 day per week activity. Albert Fresco embodied the life well lived, full of love for family and friends. He could always be counted on when you needed help. He was fun loving and funny. He was smart and sharp witted. He was a good man who made this world a better place. He will be sorely missed, but always remembered fondly by many.

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457 Visits

Albert Z. Fresco

07/11/1937 - 01/27/2021

457 Visits
Albert, born in Cairo Egypt in 1937, was the first-born son of a prominent and successful businessman, Isaac Fresco, and his wife Liliane. The family resided in Maadi, a community on the outskirts of Cairo—home to many international expatriates and affluent Egyptians. One of his earliest...  see more

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