Fred M. Fehsenfeld

October 10, 1924November 28, 2018

Fred M. Fehsenfeld, Decorated World War II Fighter Pilot and Founder of The Heritage Group, Dies at 94. Fred Fehsenfeld went to Purdue University at 17- majored in mechanical engineering, joined the swim team and had his first flying experience with the Purdue Glider Club. But in the middle of World War II, on his eighteenth birthday, Fred enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. He was assigned to the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group in France, a famous fighter group of P51 Mustangs and P47 Thunderbolts. Fred flew 89 missions in Europe and was awarded the Air Medal with three silver clusters and a silver star. He also led his 353rd fighter squadron on the last official flight in the European Theater of Operations, barrel -rolling over an Austrian prisoner of war camp to let his fellow pilots know that the war in Europe had ended. He later served in the Indiana Air National Guard. Throughout his entire life, he was a true American patriot. Fred loved to tackle challenges that had national implications. Fred’s passion for brainstorming ways to improve the American economy, led to the development of Critical Commerce Corridors. Tony Kriech, leader of the Heritage Research Group, stated, ” One of Fred’s brilliant ideas was the concept of separating car and truck lanes on our interstate highways to save lives, reduce pollution and congestion. Fred did this, not for himself but because of the societal and economic benefits that would come to the United States, which he loved so much.” This initiative would improve the future of American infrastructure for generations to come. Governor Eric Holcomb said, “Fred was a rare visionary leader, a revolutionary builder, who had a giant heart for our state and nation. His lifetime of service and philanthropy will continue to impact the lives of Hoosiers for the next 200 years”. In 2017, Governor Holcomb recognized Fred for his many contributions to the State of Indiana and named Interstate 865 the “Fred M. Fehsenfeld Sr. Highway”. Fred M. Fehsenfeld was born in Indianapolis on October 10, 1924. He was the third son of Ruth and John Fehsenfeld. His home was active, he and his three brothers loved sports and music, his mother played the piano for silent movies and the family favorite tune was “Flight of the Bumblebee”. Fred graduated from Shortridge High School, earned a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue and also received an honorary doctorate in Civil Engineering from Purdue. In 1946 he married his college sweetheart Mildred (Midge) Cornelius and they had seven children. Fred began his career at Rock Island Refining as a Process Engineer. A few years later, he was asked by his dad, to join the original family business, Crystal Flash Petroleum, a company that operated gas stations and sold home heating oil. As his family grew, it was a necessity to grow the family business. Always a creative problem solver, when the opportunity to enter the asphalt business arose, Fred went to the library (no google back then) and taught himself how to manufacture asphalt! He constructed an asphalt facility in 1960 and it’s still operating today. Fred was an incredible relationship builder, treated his employees as partners and was able to draw some incredibly talented people to the Heritage Group who became life long members of the extended Fehsenfeld family. With his entrepreneurial spirit, he led the transformation of the original company, Crystal Flash Petroleum, from 100 employees, operating gas stations and home heating oil sales in Indiana and Michigan into what has evolved as The Heritage Group. The Heritage Group currently employs 6500 people around the world, with operations across North America, Europe and China, in the core industries of Environmental and Remediation, Specialty Chemicals and Fuel Products, and Construction and Materials. He was a committed member of his community, a member of Junto for over fifty years, a loyal supporter of his alma mater Purdue and past Chairman of The Asphalt Institute. Above all, Fred loved family, especially a lively debate with children and grandchildren on world issues, education, politics and who would win the Old Oaken Bucket Game. Competitive bets on fishing, euchre and golf were all part of the family fun, so it was no surprise when he made a hole in one with two of his sons at Bearslide Golf Club. He was a devoted, loving husband to his wife of 57 years, Midge Fehsenfeld, who passed away in 2003 and to his surviving wife, Barbara Fehsenfeld, of 15 years, who made his old age enjoyable and full of adventure. Fred was preceded in death by his two children, Jan (John) Dillow and Mike (Robin) Fehsenfeld. He was a wonderful brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who will be much missed by family. Survivors include his brother, Mac (Nancy) Fehsenfeld, his five children: Jo (Nick) Rutigliano; Fred (Suzie) Fehsenfeld Jr.; Jim (Becky) Fehsenfeld; Frank (Judy) Fehsenfeld; Judee Fehsenfeld and twenty grandchildren: Shannon (Sean) Burns; John (Erica) Dillow; Melissa (Jeff) Laborsky; Mike Rutigliano; Amy (Jim) Schumacher; Sara (Greg) Morris; Katie (Geoff) Dillon; Fred (Trey) Fehsenfeld III; Courtney Fehsenfeld; Megan (Shawn) Peterson, Ashlee (Ben) Hardy; Naomi (Doug) Cowling; Frank (Carissa) Fehsenfeld Jr. ; Matt, Lisa and Jeff Fehsenfeld; Will Jaimet; Ali, Tia and Skyler Winkler and twenty-four great grandchildren. Fred had a wonderful sense of humor and made an impression on all who knew him. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, December 8th from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. at The Center, 6320 Intech Blvd. Indianapolis. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: The Purdue Foundation, 403 West Wood Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, In memory of Fred M. Fehsenfeld Sr. Engineering Scholarship Fund or Riley Children’s Hospital, 30 S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204, In memory of Fred M. Fehsenfeld Sr. Fred never gave up on anything: in business, with his family, or our country’s future. And he liked to have the last word. It seems fitting to end with Fred’s own words that he asked to be inscribed on his tombstone: “I TRIED”. To leave of memory of Fred go to Leppert Mortuary Nora Chapel assisting with arrangements.


  • The Purdue Foundation - Fred M. Fehsenfeld Sr. Engineering Scholarship Fund
  • Riley Children's Hospital


  • Celebration of Life

    Saturday, December 8, 2018


Fred M. Fehsenfeld

have a memory or condolence to add?

Barbara Wynne

December 8, 2018

To all the wonderful Fehsenfeld Clan, The Celebration of Life for Fred Sr. was absolutely perfect. So wonderful to share stories from family members as well as the wonderful tributes given by former Governor Mitch Daniels, so admired for every new program he brought to both Indiana and Purdue, and our Congresswoman Susan Brooks. It was a delight to see a grown up Fred Fehsenfeld III give the very thoughtful and tender Eulogy.
Loved seeing the entire family again---reliving the past a little with Frank...who introduced the wonderful video of Fred's flying service to our country. I loved loved the Missing Man Fly Over. Thanks Suzie for finding me a special spot and Fred Jr. ...everything was perfect...You tried and You DID IT. Please let Barbara know that I was very proud of how all of the family thanked her for making is Fred Sr. last 15+ years so special with travel and developing more family fun. God Bless one of the very finest families in the Greater Indianapolis area. Love you, Barbara Wynne

Claire Cornelius

December 6, 2018

I had the opportunity to sit down with my great uncle a couple years ago and it was a memorable conversation that I will treasure forever. What an amazing and inspirational life he lived. I only wish I had more opportunities to spend with him to listen to his stories and adventures. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

Carl and David Moellering

December 6, 2018

Fred was a true visionary . To us he was a kind man, great humor, and usually thinking about how to grow the highway industry. He will be missed


December 6, 2018


Bill Ripberger

December 6, 2018

Thanks Fred, was someone everyone in our industry looked up to. He will always be remembered.

Joseph A. Kronek

December 5, 2018

I am posting this on behalf of my father, Joseph A. Kronek. My father served with Fred in the 354th Fighter Group. He is saddened to hear of Fred's passing. There are so many good memories of the 354th reunions and Fred's part in making everyone welcome. Blue Skies!

Pat McCrite

December 3, 2018

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the whole Fehsenfeld family. Although I only had the pleasure to meet Fred Sr. once or twice, he was one of just a handful of men in the Highway Industry in Indiana I truly looked up to. A real pioneer. God bless.

Terry Dunn

December 2, 2018

I called him Mr. Fehsenfeld as a young man, I repeat the respect now. He was a man that found good in this world and passed it forward. I respected my grandfather (Henning Johnson)more than any man i knew and he respected this man who has joined him in the stars. My heart goes out to his family.

Mike Whitlock

December 2, 2018

Fred was a member of The Junto of Indianapolis since 1961. As a fellow member of many fewer years and it was an honor to know someone of such achievement both in business and as a defender of our nation. Fred was always gracious and generous and was a great teller of jokes. I've included a picture of Fred with my father Jack Whitlock taken at a Junto event circa 2015. It was a privilege to know Fred and to benefit from his knowledge and inspiration over the past ten years, if only periodically. He will be missed.