by Murray Schneider
Glen Park News
A fixture in the village for well over 30 years, Fred Galarneau, long-time Tyger’s cashier, died peacefully on April 1, 2011. He is survived by a son, Eric Utto-Galarneau, and a daughter, Anita Andrews. He is also survived by his former wife, Inge Loeffler.
Fred, 77, was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1972 after 22 years of service, including tours of service in Korea, Vietnam and Germany. His last years in the military were spent as a drummer and bass player with the Army Band in the Presidio.
Fred lived above the Bank of America on Diamond Street, then above Eggettes, and he didn’t have far to get to work – just across Chenery Street to Tyger’s where he punched the cash register from 1986 until he retired seven years ago.
“He was a very friendly guy,” remembered Sandy Nam, who worked with Fred for five years. “He knew everyone in the neighborhood and made customers laugh.”
Across the street at Glen Park Cleaners, Tommy Baik echoed Sandy. “Fred was a nice guy.”
Joining the same chorus, Hal Tauber at Glen Park Hardware said, “Fred was a very friendly face when you walked into Tyger’s. He made a welcoming greeter.”
Fred’s role as ambassador to the neighborhood didn’t stop at Tyger’s front door.
“Fred told us all about the neighborhood,” reminisced Shannon Weber, a social worker for UCSF and a mother of three children, who emigrated from the Marina District nearly four years ago. “He hooked us into all the businesses.”
Camaraderie was Fred’s coin of the realm.
“My dad and mom remained good friends after they separated,” recalled Fred’s son Eric. “Mom would travel to the City every year and they’d attend the San Francisco Jazz Festival together.”
The chords of tenor saxophones weren’t the only sounds sweetening Fred’s life.
“Inge would come to the City and clean for Fred,” offered Shannon Weber, who often heard the hum of Inge’s vacuum cleaner. “And she’d always bring the most delicious German sugar cookies.”
Fred’s sweet tooth, which he indulged while at Tyger’s, didn’t go unnoticed.
“Fred always ordered candy,” remembers Sandy Nam. “UPS would deliver it here.”
Glen Park Hardware’s Susan Tauber tells her own confectionary tale. “Fred always bought Girl Scout cookies from my daughter.”
Fred’s son has his own take on it.
“My dad lived life simply and he wasn’t a complicated man,” said Eric, an Evangelical Lutheran Church minister who lives in Aberdeen, Washington. “He really enjoyed being with people and working at Tyger’s.”
Fred was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. After he was discharged from the Army he first tended bar at the Tee Off Bar and Grill on Clement Street before wending his way down O’Shaughnessy Boulevard to Diamond Street. He never gave up his love for jazz, and after toting up breakfast and lunch tabs at Tyger’s during the 1980s he meandered south to Daly City and played bass at Westlake Joe’s.
“He enjoyed playing, but never did it for the money,” said Eric, who tops off at six feet five inches. “He was my Little Dad.”
Fred, who was not an inch over five and a half feet and weighed probably 140, lived his life uniquely, according to his son.
“Dad was ultimately a jazz musician,” volunteered Eric. “Like jazz, life to him had its thematic threads but it also offered him an opportunity to play his own riffs.”
Recalling his father’s love of good eateries as well as melodies and rhythms, Eric fashioned a favorite recipe of his father’s, one that included both music and food. “Whether going to excellent restaurants or attending well-performed jazz events, my father believed that whatever your passion was you should go for it.”
Sort of the stuff of legends. Emblematic of a life well lived. You wouldn’t get much of an argument from Shannon Weber, whom Fred inducted into Glen Park’s cultural and culinary delights.
“He was a legend to us,” she smiled.
And Fred’s legacy?
“After he passed,” Shannon said, “Inge gave her sugar cookie recipe to my children. That’s love. Right? How sweet is that!”