Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 5, 2014

Frederick Whitney Rockwood, 66

The Batesville Herald-Tribune

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Frederick Whitney Rockwood, 66, Batesville, passed away peacefully at his home March 3, 2014. 

He was born in Salt Lake City Dec. 18, 1947, to Lewis Frederick and Muriel Whitney Rockwood, who are now both deceased.

In 1967, he was called to serve a mission to the Southern Far East Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and spent two and one-half years in Hong Kong serving the Chinese people. Upon his return, he married Jolene Edmunds for time and eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He graduated from Stanford University in 1972 with distinction and departmental honors with a B.A. degree in anthropology, and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa National Honorary Society. He earned his J.D. degree with honors in 1975 from Harvard Law School.

After graduation, he worked as a strategic business consultant at Boston Consulting Group and then at Bain and Co. until 1977, when he and his family moved to Batesville to accept a position with Hillenbrand Industries. While at Hillenbrand Industries, he served as a senior vice president of corporate planning until 1985, when he became the founder and first chief executive officer of the Forethought Group, a new Hillenbrand company. Under his direction, Forethought grew into a large successful company and was featured in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine

In 1997, he became CEO of the Hillenbrand Funeral Planning Division (Forethought and Batesville Casket Co.), and then in 1999, president and CEO of Hillenbrand Industries, consisting of Hill-Rom, Forethought and Batesville Casket Co. He felt honored to work with members of the Hillenbrand family, and he had the distinction of being the first CEO of Hillenbrand Industries who was not a family member. He and other Hillenbrand Industries executives were honored to be able to ring the closing bell to celebrate Hillenbrand Industries' anniversary on the New York Stock Exchange.

After his retirement from Hillenbrand Industries in 2005, he worked as CEO for General Resonance, a medical technology start-up company in Maryland, for three years until he retired permanently.

Fred served as chairman of the Indiana State 21st Century Schooling Committee, a committee formed by the governor of Indiana to update state educational curricula and bring Indiana education into the 21st century. For his four years of work on this committee, he was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash Award by Gov. Evan Bayh in 1991. He was also awarded the Kentucky Colonel Award by the governor of Kentucky in 1995.

Fred served on the Boy Scouts of America Dan Beard Council, Cincinnati, board of directors for many years, and became an avid proponent of the scouting program in the area. He greatly enriched the council by giving guidance and support in strategic planning.

He was a world-respected expert on military history and medals and was frequently sought after for his knowledge and expertise in military collectibles all over the world. In 2008 and 2012, Fred, along with Jolene, served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign committee in Cincinnati.

Fred was a true Renaissance man, with varied interests in many different fields of learning. He was an avid reader who always had a book in his hand, and he had an extraordinarily eclectic library, all of which he could instantly recall. He loved languages and spoke many of them fluently, including Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) and German. He was a gifted public speaker, and an in-depth Biblical scriptorian.

He loved and supported all forms of the arts. In his younger days, he won many awards for his paintings and drawings. He loved good music and drama and with his family regularly attended and supported theatrical productions, symphony, ballet and the visual arts, the love of which he instilled in his children. He loved to travel and learn about other cultures and whenever possible he exposed his family to other cultures around the world.

Fred loved to do genealogical and family history research and spent years tracing family lines, acquiring thousands of names and genealogical data. He was an impeccable researcher and left behind a substantial collection of written ancestor and family histories and biographies as a legacy for his descendants.

Fred was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held many church leadership positions throughout his life. In addition to serving as assistant to the president of the Southern Far East Mission, he has served as a branch president; bishop of the Batesville Ward; a counselor in branch, ward and stake presidencies; seminary and Sunday school teacher; Young Men’s president, stake high councilor, Family History Center director, LDS temple sealer, ward mission leader, numerous positions in the Priesthood Quorums of the church and, most recently, as stake president of the Cincinnati Ohio Stake.

His loss is felt deeply by his family. Fred was a devoted husband and father of his children and grandchildren and will be remembered lovingly for his many kindnesses, his wonderful sense of humor, his extraordinary intelligence, his deep spirituality, his great wisdom and his profound testimony of and devout love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

He is survived by his wife; six sons and daughters, including Justin (Barbara) Rockwood, Bothell, Wash., Melissa (Derek) Adams, Highland, Utah, Jennifer (Kurt) Knight, Belmont, Mass., Katie (Jarom) Sidwell, Pleasant Grove, Utah, Elizabeth (Armando) Tirado, Woburn, Mass., and David Rockwood, Palo Alto, Calif. He is also survived by 17 and one-half grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Cincinnati Ohio Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 144 Buttermilk Pike, Lakeside Park, Ky. A visitation will be held at the same location from 9 a.m.-noon before the funeral.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 15, at 10 a.m. at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City. Burial will be in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Rural Alliance for the Arts, P.O. Box 307, Batesville IN 47006; or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Missionary Fund at LDS Philanthropies, 15 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. Meyers Funeral Home, Batesville, is handling all funeral arrangements.