Emeritus, In Memoriam
Frederick William Kasch was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.
Fred graduated from Austin High School in Chicago in 1931. He went on to the University of Illinois where he played on the 1934 Big 10 Baseball Championship team and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in 1935. He served on the faculty while completing his M.S. degree in 1937. Fred next worked as the Director of Physical Education & Athletics at the University of Illinois Medical & Dental School.
In 1939 he married Katherine Annabel McLaren. They had four children, one son (Frederick Morrison Kasch) and three daughters (Katie, Margo, & Helen). In 1967, their son died in the line of duty as a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War.
Fred and family moved to San Diego in 1948 when Fred was appointed Assistant Professor in the Physical Education Department of San Diego State. He taught academic courses in exercise physiology, rehab-corrective physical education, applied anatomy & kinesiology, adaptive PE and physical activity skills. He was Head Gymnastics Coach and Freshman Baseball Coach. Fred also served formally or informally on more than 50 master students’ theses committees.
Prior to coming to San Diego, Fred had begun work on his doctorate at New York University, but progress was interrupted by WW II. During the summers after the war, Fred continued coursework to complete his doctorate at NYU and did his research at a Chicago hospital where he developed tests to assess the fitness of children recovering from rheumatic fever. He completed his Doctorate degree in 1956.
Fred was a pioneer in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology. In 1952 he established the Exercise Laboratory at SDSC to train students. In 1958 he began the Adult Fitness Program to serve the community and provide a teaching and research environment for graduate students. It became a model for other universities.
In 1964, cardiologist Dr. John Boyer joined the fitness program as Medical Director and together they began the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, San Diego’s first and one of the earliest in the country. They were also the first exercise physiologist/physician team in the U.S. Their book, Adult Fitness: Principles and Practice, was published in 1968.
During his career, Fred received many research grants. Of special note is the 1965 grant from The National Institute of Health. This was the first NIH research grant ever awarded to SDSU. Fred published more than 100 scientific papers, including his longitudinal studies on the favorable effects of exercise on an aging cardiovascular system which were published at various intervals ending with the 33 year study. Referring to one of the earliest studies, The Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine stated: “The finding set the medical field on its ear. The study helped lay the foundation for the nation’s fitness boom in the 70’s, and put to rest the conventional wisdom that exercising after 35 was tantamount to delivering a death sentence to an aging heart and blood vessels.”
Fred was a life member of numerous professional societies and attended scientific meeting worldwide even in his retirement. He was elected Life Fellow of The American College of Sports Medicine and received the ACSM Citation award in 1982. Other honors include The President’s Council on Physical Fitness in 1967 and the 1981 SDSU Outstanding Faculty Award in Physical Education. In 1990, the SDSU Exercise Physiology Laboratory was named in his honor; in 1999 an endowment was established in his name to assist SDSU graduate students. This endowment now honors Dr. Boyer also.
Before Fred Kasch retired (1981), he lost his wife Taffy, who passed away in 1976 at age 59. After retirement, Fred remained active in mentoring others, but also enjoyed his love of the outdoors. He was an avid skier, hiker, and longbow hunter. He spent considerable time pursuing these activities in Wisconsin, where he met his second wife, Theodora Turner-Lottig.
He and Teddie were married in 1992. He was 79 and she 68. They enjoyed many happy years between homes in San Diego and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Fred joined the Big Foot Archery Club in Lake Geneva where he mentored younger members and developed new friendships for the rest of his life. The organization has renamed the Traditional Shoot to be forever called the “Fred Kasch Traditional Shoot.’
Fred died on 8 April 2008 in San Diego just eight days short of his 95th Birthday. He left an unmistakable and indelible imprint on the science of exercise. He dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for others by teaching the benefits of exercise and nutrition, which his research proved and his own life displayed.