Those who knew Fred Placke said he loved helping children, whether he knew them or not.
Placke, former Lewisville ISD board trustee, board president and longtime volunteer in the district, died Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 68.
The visitation will take place from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Flower Mound Family Funeral Home, 3550 Firewheel Drive. The funeral will take place from 1-2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Lewisville, 1251 Valley Ridge Blvd.
“He had a larger-than-life presence about him,” said his son, Greg Placke. “Everyone who met him knew how kind and caring of a person he was. He loved kids, education and people in general.”
Placke, a realtor, served on the LISD Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2010, and he was board president from 2005-2008.
Placke was a government teacher at Marcus High School, and in 1997 he was named the school’s Teacher of the Year.
After he retired from teaching Placke volunteered as a math tutor at McAuliffe Elementary in Highland Village.
“Fred always liked helping children succeed,” said Carol Kyer, who served with Placke on the school board from 1999 to 2010. “He always wanted kids to get involved with school.”
Family and friends said whether he was in the classroom or volunteering outside of it, his passion for teaching children always shined.
“He viewed education as power,” said Carey Frazer, Placke’s daughter. “It was a gift he wanted all kids to have.”
Placke started a district-wide geography bee, which still takes place today. Greg said it seemed like a natural fit since geography had interested him at an early age.
“He had subscribed to ‘National Geographic’ since he was 18,” Greg said. “And growing up, he would quiz us.”
Placke also started a district-wide chess tournament, which is also ongoing.
“He taught us to play chess, saying that it stimulates the mind,” Greg said. “He would say that sharpening the mind is the best way to keep learning.”
Kyer said Placke not only taught academics but often used his position as a school board member to teach life lessons as well.
“Whenever we would have a student hearing about a discipline issue, he would try to counsel the student if they had problems,” Kyer said. “He loved being involved with kids. If they didn’t have a father figure, Fred would see how he could help.”
Friends and family said Placke’s devotion to children stretched beyond the school district.
Greg recalled a time when Placke was in college at Tarleton State University and met a man at a Dairy Queen who was treating several foster children to lunch.
The man, Dell Barnett, had started New Horizon’s Foster Home for Children in Goldthwaite, Texas for victims of child abuse.
Placke was intrigued and decided to help. Together with his college friends Placke raised money to buy Christmas presents for the children. He and volunteers would deliver them during what would become known as the Placke Christmas Party, which takes place every year at the New Horizons Ranch.
“At least for a few hours it would give these kids hope and happiness,” Greg said.
Placke carried on the tradition when he moved to North Texas, and the event has been taking place for 35 years. Greg said serving on the school board helped Placke promote the program even more, and now it involves student volunteers from Marcus and Flower Mound high schools.
The program was so important to Placke that he was selective on who he allowed to help.
“He only let people adopt a child who he knew would follow through with it the whole time,” Kyer said.
It was that dedication he had for children – both halfway across the state and within his own school district – that people remember most.
“He was a teacher in every aspect of the word,” Frazer said. “In life and in school.”