Frederick H. Van Dusen, longtime resident of Potrero Hill’s northwestern slope, passed away of natural causes on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at the age of 81. Van, as he was called by friends and family, was a vibrant neighborhood fixture for nearly 60 years, having moved to the Hill in the late-1950s after completing his tour of duty with the United States Coast Guard. Van Dusen went on to become a successful mortician, working for Duggan’s Serra Funeral Home on 17th Street between Valencia and Albion, where he attended to the care of many Hill and Mission district families grieving the loss of a loved one.
An 18th and Vermont streets resident, Van Dusen was a friend to many. A born raconteur with a gregarious personality and a formidable sense of the absurd, Van was master at storytelling, sharing a seemingly endless stream of tales detailing hilarious accounts of adventure and misadventure. During his many years living on the Hill, he was a frequent patron at the Potrero Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. For several years following his retirement, he stood behind the counter at Dave’s Food Store on 20th Street, entertaining customers with his asides and droll humor.
Van Dusen was an avid collector of memorabilia and commemorative items, and amassed an impressive collection of Waterford Crystal, much of which was purchased directly from the manufacturer in Ireland. He volunteered at the San Francisco Veterans Hospital, where he devoted many hours.
Frederick Van Dusen left behind many nieces, nephews, and old friends. At his request, his ashes were scattered on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at a Military Funeral with Honors held at the Sacramento Valley Veterans Administration National Cemetery in Dixon, California.