SYRACUSE PRESS CLUB
His father, Howard, was a newspaperman who served as a Boer War correspondent for the old New York World and then became city editor of the New York Herald, which later merged with the Tribune. Fred never really knew his father because Howard Hillegas died about a year after Fred's birth in 1917 on Staten Island.
Shortly after, Fred's mother moved to Ithaca with Fred and his siblings, After going through Ithaca schools, Fred went to Cornell University where he worked on the Cornell Sun and was elected editor in his senior year. He also was an officer of his class.
In 1935, while still a student, Fred got his first taste of professional newspaper work when he began subbing for The Post-Standard's Ithaca correspondent during vacations. The next year, he became the newspaper's full-time Ithaca correspondent, a job he held during his last two years at Cornell.
After graduating in 1938, Fred joined the P-S staff full-time in Syracuse. Working nights for the morning newspaper, he could take journalism courses at Syracuse University's School of Journalism in 1938-39.
In 1946, he joined WSYR radio, where he served as the station's entire news staff. Later, with a full news staff, Fred became news director of both radio and the new WSYR-TV (Channel 3, now WSTM).
In November 1972, he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, because of his wife's health. Fred and Estelle Holdsworth met at the P-S where she also was a reporter. She later joined the Herald-Journal staff. Estelle died in 1988.
While on WSYR radio and TV, Fred was well-known for his two "signature signoffs." The "last word," a story with an unusual twist, ended his evening radio news show, and the "last look," a similar pictorial story, closed his evening TV news.
In 1959, Fred Hillegas became the first television newsperson to be elected president of the Syracuse Press Club.
After moving to Arizona, Fred worked in radio for about 10 years until he retired in 1982, and was as an instructor at Arizona State University. He died at the age of 85 in July, 2002, in Corvallis, Oregon, where he had moved to be near his daughter. --Joseph A. Porcello