Five Minutes With... Fred Lanzi

July 11, 2014 

His grandfather immigrated to the United States from Italy because he wanted a better way of life for his family. Fred Lanzi grew up on a dairy farm in New York but later moved to the South because he too was searching for a career that would take root.

Q: With the World Cup taking place, this must be a big time for you, considering your connection to soccer. How did you become involved?

A: I played soccer in high school (in Catskill Mountains of New York). Later, when I got out of the service and moved to Wendell, the Wendell Parks and Recreation Department was trying to get soccer organized. It was a fledgling sport down here at the time. This was the early 1980s. They knew I had had some experience with soccer so I coached a few teams. Then later, I would just referee. There was a time I was refereeing high school games and I would also referee CASL (Capital Area Soccer League) games but it just got too much so I now only referee high school so I can have my weekends free. I would have loved to watch the World Cup games but I work Tuesday-Thursday and the games are over by the time I get home. The interest in the sport has really grown – that has been great to see.

Q: So you grew up in the Catskill Mountains – what was that like?

A: I grew up on a dairy farm. My dad (Adriano) had immigrated to this country from Italy when he was just 3. A lot of his family immigrated here. My granddad had lots of siblings. But for my dad, it was just him, his sister and his dad – his mom had died in Italy. It was post World War I so a lot of the Europeans were moving here, looking for a better way of life. They settled in places like the Catskills, some moved to Alabama and worked in the steel mills, some moved to Illinois. So my granddad stayed in the Catskills. My mom is from the area – Delaware County. My dad met her, got married and the both of them ran a dairy farm. I liked it – I debated whether to continue it. My dad and I talked about it. He told me he wouldn’t recommend it. He said you are tied down 24/7. I went to college and majored in civil technology – highway construction. Then Uncle Sam called and I was drafted – that was about 1970.

Q: So that was the time during the Vietnam War – were you sent overseas?

A: I missed Vietnam somehow. I went to Ft. Dix (New Jersey) for basic training and then later I was sent to Ft. Gordon (Georgia) for MP (military police) training. I stayed there until 1972. When I got out, I migrated to North Carolina and settled in Wendell.

Q: What made you choose Wendell?

A: A good friend of mine that I grew up with in the Catskills, Linden Sanford, had moved to Wendell and was working at Norwich Mills. When I got out of service, it was in the middle of the winter. I had heard a lot of people were moving down here because there was quite a bit going on. I moved down here and began working with Carolina Power and Light.

Q: Did you bring a wife with you?

A: Yes, I had married my high school sweetheart, JoAnn, while I was in the service. She came with me. We will be celebrating 43 years of marriage this month. We have one child – Anne.

Q: And you quickly got settled in eastern Wake. You are also a member of the local America Legion?

A: I have been involved with the American Legion for about 25 years, and for the last 10 of those in Wendell.

Q: Do you hold an office?

A: I am the historian.

Q: You have traveled quite a bit across the country. Any significant events from your time spent in these areas that stand out?

A: While I was at Ft. Gordon, which is in Augusta, we (military police) we were called to work the Masters Golf Tournament so I got a chance to walk around the course at the Augusta National Golf Club – which a lot of people don’t get a chance to walk so that was a nice opportunity.

Correspondent Dena Coward

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