and Sonya Fluckiger
By Buffalo Bob Casale
Sonya & Fred at home today. They are famous
for their Fourth of July parties and love to entertain grandchildren
Taylor Austin and Rebecca Hunsaker.
“March 15, 2010 marked the 68th anniversary of my parents wedding,” said Tracey Austin. “My dad, Fred Fluckiger is 90 and mom, Sonya is 88.”
Both parents are graduates of the class of 1938 at Hicksville High School. Fred is a retired Colonel from the United States Army and Sonya is a not yet retired homemaker. The couple began their life together living in a chicken coup.
Yes, a chicken coop.
Tracey said her mom is a remarkable woman with an erect posture and amazing eyes. She also liked French furnishings and her house is an extension of Paris. Sonya remarked that living in Paris for 2-1/2 years gave her the time to make some serious purchases.
Karen has an interior design business, Apropos Antiques & Interiors and helped Sonya decorate their current home in Richmond, Virginia.
Their stay in Paris was a far cry from Fred’s first posting overseas when he rejoined the army after the Korean War started. Fred went to Guam and Sonya followed him with first born, Karen and six-week old Irene tucked in a laundry basket on the plane.
Sonya and Fred were high school sweethearts. Sonya says Fred was so popular, I just hated him. He was a BMOC (Big Man on Campus) lettering in four sports, Football, Basketball, Baseball and Track.
Sonya Teresko, as she was known in high school, had very strict Russian orthodox parents who kept close rein on their gorgeous daughter.
“My father tells us a story about his presence as a hall monitor – a Big Deal at the time. He used to ask mom to get out of the lunch line, which used to embarrass her to death,” Karen said.
“I graduated in 1938 and then went to Long Island University,” recalls Fred. “Sonya and I were dating steadily into 1941 when the draft picked me up in March.”
“ I hadn’t formulated any marriage plans because of the circumstances,” says Mrs. Fluckiger. “At one time, Fred did ask me to marry him and I said NO!!! I didn’t think it would work. For one thing, his parents were so Americanized and mine were Old World.
But later I agreed and Fred actually sent me out to look for my own engagement ring. Being in the Army, he didn’t have time!”
Shipped overseas in 1944 as part of Patton’s Third Army, young Captain Fluckiger saw heavy action in the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy.
“We landed on Utah Beach and pressed through,” Fred recalls.
Part of the forces that liberated Dachau in April of 1945, Colonel Fluckiger shared his memories on a documentary for the Holocaust Museum broadcast on VA Currents.
“We hadn’t known about the concentration camps. When we saw the prisoners, it was beyond horrifying. That profound suffering…it reinforced our purpose.”
Fred was awarded the bronze star medal in 1945.
Following the war, Fred commuted into Manhattan from Hicksville to the American Tobacco Company while Sonya tended their young flock, including Amy born in 1952.
“When the Korean War started, Fred wanted to re-enlist,” explained Mrs. Fluckiger, who supported her husband’s decision.
Vienna, Virginia was home when the colonel retired after 31 years.
“Then I said to him, Pack your bags, we’re moving to Richmond,” recalled Mrs. Fluckiger.
And the military hero, what were his thoughts?
“His mother raised him very well,” laughed Sonya.
“Fred held his mom up on a pedestal, and when we got married, she moved over and made room for me!”