A friend sent me this:



A TRIBUTE TO DEAN FREYTAG BY BILL LINSON


Flags are flying at half staff today over model railroads throughout Ohio and beyond, mourning the passing of model railroad legend Dean Freytag.

Freytag, 86, passed away Christmas night at the assisted living facility in Ashland, OH, where he had resided for the past 11 months. He leaves a sister Carol, a brother-in-law Jim, and a niece and nephew. He was preceded in death by wife Ann Elizabeth (Davies) in 1999.

Dean had four loves in his life. In no particular order, they were Ann, railroading, steel mills, and Ashland University. It is to the latter he left most of his estate, being honored with the grandstands in their new football stadium being named in his and Ann's honor. He was a lifetime member of the National Model Railroad Association, a Master Model Railroader, and the contest director for that organization for a number of years. Interestingly, he never attended Ashland University, never worked on a railroad, refused to ride on the trains calling them rough-riding and dusty, and never ever worked in a steel mill.

But he probably knew more about the steel-making processes than many who did work in the industry. He was a prolific modeler of all things about railroading, but especially steel mills. Indeed, it was steel that dominated the 13' x 38' main room of his HO model railroad. His models of the various components of the steel mills that dominated the landscape in what he called the "Ruhr Valley of the United States" -- that section of the country between Cleveland and Pittsburgh -- are the prototypes for the the Walthers series of steel-making structures used by modelers throughout the world.

Freytag was an author of at least two books used extensively in modeling, "The Cyclopedia of Industrial Modeling" and "The History, Making & Modeling of Steel", and his "how-to" articles appeared in the modeling press frequently over the past 50 years. He was published in Model Railroader, the leading model railroading magazine, more than 50 times. His manuscripts were "banged out" -- literally -- in all caps on a manual typewriter, as were his letters, notes and even post cards.

Dean was a proponent of working with styrene -- he was featured in an instructional video about styrene -- and Plastruct shapes, and virtually everything he built was from scratch and/or kit bashed. He seldom, if ever, felt the structural "iron work" of bridge and industry models were "heavy" enough and nearly always "beefed them up" with his beloved Plastruct components. His modeling transcended craftsmanship into art. His discerning eye saw a steel mill ladle in the discarded cap from a whiskey bottle, the conveyor belt rollers in the used throw-away razor blade guards, and literally dozens of other such applications. Not always the most patient of teachers, he nevertheless was a mentor to dozens -- maybe even hundreds -- of modelers, and to listen to and learn from Dean was to learn from a master.

Not to think he was one or two dimensional, Dean was a avid reader of war novels -- particularly World War II in which he served -- and deeply interested in Civil War history, having visited the battlefields on numerous occasions. He wore out two exercycles, putting thousands of miles on each of them as he watched the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He always had cats that were given railroad names, i.e., "Smokey", "Cinders",and Chessie".

He spent a lot of time on the telephone with modeling friends all over the country discussing a myriad of topics, but usually related to railroading. It was Dean Freytag who put train watching into perspective when he once said to someone questioning the time spent, "I'm with friends who share interests, we're sitting outside in lovely weather and when there aren't trains going by we discuss the world, the economy, football, and all sorts of things."

The lights are dimmed on Dean Freytag's South Ridge Lines, and fires are out at his Davies Steel complex. Model railroading has lost an icon, and I have lost a friend.