Hundreds of people gathered in Albany Sunday to remember Fred Oyle, a well-loved member of the community who passed away recently from a sudden heart attack.
50-year-old Oyle had lived on Key Route Boulevard with his family for more than a decade. He was a block captain, a popular house painter, and a devoted coach for the Albany Little League. Neighbors, friends and family members shared stories about Oyle’s cheerfulness and generosity at a packed hall at the Veteran’s Memorial Building.
“He lived a short but very meaningful life, ” said Josh Lebowitz, a next-door neighbor and close friend of Oyle’s. “He was the best neighbor, the nicest and most generous person I knew. “
Oyle was always upbeat and smiling, neighbors said, he loved chatting with people and would offer a helping hand whenever needed.
“He is a neighborhood icon. ” said Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson, who lives two doors away from Oyle’s house. “He is the kind of guy that takes care of everybody else first.”
Oyle was born in New York in the late 1950s and moved to the Bay Area when he was 13. He settled down in Albany with his wife Lisa Weber in the 1990s. He ran a house painting business, raised two children, and actively took part in community affairs.
Among those who will miss him dearly are Albany’s young baseball players. Oyle coached at the Little League for many years and built strong bonds with the children.
“He never kept us down. He always cheered us up, ” said 12-year-old Matthew Mino, who had been coached by Oyle for five years.
Matthew remembered vividly the last time he saw Oyle. It was a recent Thursday afternoon when school was over. Oyle was picking up his son at the Albany Middle School. When he saw Matthew, he greeted him in his usual warm way.
“He took my hat off and tapped my head. And he said, ‘I can’t wait till the season starts’, ” Matthew recalled.
That very evening, Matthew heard from his parents that Oyle passed away suddenly. It was the most shocking news he’d ever had in his life, Matthew said. And he cried.
Several of Matthew’s friends at the baseball team had similar experience with him. They all recalled good memories of Oyle.
“He always treated you equally. It didn’t matter whether you were the best or the worst player, ” said 12-year-old Gideon Lebowitz.
“And he cooked the best ribs, ” said 13-year-old Carl Jacobs.
The kids won a state championship last year with Oyle’s coaching and cheering. They’ve decided to dedicate their games in the upcoming season to Oyle. And they are careful to make sure that their friend Alex — Oyle’s son — feels supported and upbeat.
Many friends and neighbors are supporting the Oyle family. Barbara Chambers, a close friend of Oyle’s, helped the family put together the memorial party, and set up a trust fund for each of the two children.
“I thank the community for their love and support, ” said Lisa Weber, Oyle’s wife.
Weber received people’s condolence with hugs and optimism.
“We are all sad. But life needs to go on, ” she said. “There won’t be his loud laugh and happy face around us, but life doesn’t stop. My responsibility doesn’t stop.”
Article and photos by Linda (Linjun) Fan, with special thanks to the Albany Little League and the Oyle family.
How to contribute to Alexander and Ruby Oyle Scholarship Trust Fund:
Make your check payable to Alexander Oyle Turst Fund or Ruby Oyle Trust Fund, and mail it to the following address: Mechanics Bank, 1801 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707. Contact Barbara Chambers at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.