On Feb. 16, 1919, Agnes Evelyn was the eighth daughter born to Anna and Willie Wunderley. Aggie’s father died when she was 4 years old. To survive the Great Depression, Aggie’s older sisters moved back to the family home and worked odd jobs. Aggie and her younger brother Bill would later tell stories of the county delivering saltines and peanut butter each Friday.
Aggie graduated from Bell High School in 1937. She married and had her son, Tommy, in 1938. During World War II, she served colas to servicemen at the Trianon Ballroom in South Gate. She would ask each serviceman, “Are you in the Navy?” Aggie’s little brother Bill was a sailor on the USS Caldwell. One day, as Bill was in the torpedo room heading toward the Battle of Tarawa, he received a call to come up to the bridge. There, he saw a ship nearby with an officer yelling through a megaphone. “Are you Bill Wunderley?” “Yes, Sir, I am.” “Your sister, Aggie, wanted me to tell you hi.” That was Aggie. Everyone loved her so much that they would stop a war just to deliver a “hi” in the middle of the Pacific.
Aggie also worked at Owens-Illinois and represented the company in the women’s basketball and softball leagues. Her photo covered the sports page of the L.A. Examiner on 8/8/43. She was the shortest player on her basketball team but the highest scorer.
She divorced her first husband and met Tony Frederic at a dance hall during the war. A sucker for a good dancer, Aggie married Tony in 1943. Three years to the day, she gave birth to Peggy. Aggie converted to Catholicism in the ’50s and proceeded to volunteer at Our Lady of the Rosary and at Pius X High School for the next 20 years. She worked at Safeway, wrapping cheese, while Tony tried his hand as a salesman. Aggie’s second son, Gary, was born in 1951. The family bought a home in Hollydale and eventually moved Aggie’s ailing mother in. Aggie cared for her mom until her passing.
Aggie was a pioneer in her day. At the age of 40, she gave birth to her daughter, Deborah. Around 1964, Aggie and Tony sold their Hollydale home, borrowed money from a friend, and bought a flower shop operating out of a residential garage in Bellflower. Aggie was CFO and chief bucket-scrubber. She and Tony bought a home, this time in Paramount. Working side-by-side took its toll and, in 1975, Aggie and Tony divorced. Aggie once again found herself without money. She applied to Sears Catalog and started over at minimum wage. When JCPenney opened its catalog department, they recruited Aggie away. The girls at Penney’s (half of Aggie’s age) hated hauling the heavy appliances, so Aggie gladly would do it, even without clocking-in on her days off.
Aggie retired from Penney’s at age 72 and then helped with her young grandchildren. She loved watching her Dodgers, working crossword puzzles, and snacking on Milky Ways. She cried over every card, school-project and photo of a grandkid. At 86, she broke her hip, but, to no one’s surprise, she bounced back. She lived just shy of 98 years. She had a truly wonderful life. Her family will miss her strength, resilience and unconditional love. Aggie is preceded in death by her parents, seven sisters and brother; granddaughter, Kiley Frederic; and niece, Linda Reitz. She is survived by her son, Tom, and wife Lana; daughter, Peggy Kollen, and husband Richard; son, Gary, and wife Laurie; daughter, Deborah Parker and husband Brian (La Cañada residents); 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; 8 great-great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
- In lieu of flowers, please donate to Our Lady of the Rosary School c/o Mrs. Vanessa Rivas, 14813 S. Paramount Blvd., Paramount, CA 90723.
- Funeral is at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 14815 S. Paramount Blvd., Paramount, on Dec. 1 at 11 a.m.