Updated 22-XII-2018

Theodore W. Frech, Jr.

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Theodore W. Frech

This writer has to conclude that the life of Theodore Frech was one of the most unique in GE's lighting history. Born in Somerville, NJ on 28 Jul 1878, at different times he served as Vice President and General Manager of the Peerless Motor Car Company - as well as Vice President of the General Electric Company. However, he spent the last twelve years of his GE career doing what he preferred to do - working at the bench doing experiments.

Frech first served as an assistant to Franklin S. Terry in the summer of 1901. Later in that year he worked at the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company in Fostoria, Ohio. In the early months of 1902 he worked at the Bryan-Marsh factory, a manufacturer of incandescent lamps, in Marlboro, Massachusetts and later in the year was with the California Incandescent Lamp Company in San Francisco. Frech was called back in early 1903 to perform special work for Terry and by summer was put in charge of the Columbia Incandescent Lamp Company in St. Louis. Not to rest, he packed his suitcase again and in the fall of the same year was working in the factory in Warren, Ohio.

Between the years 1904-1913 Frech held several positions in Cleveland, including the properties at 45th street (the former site of The Brush Electric Company) as well as working on the development of the tantalum filament lamp, the pressed tungsten filament lamp and the drawn tungsten filament lamp.

Some of National's founders had financial interest in the Peerless Motor Car Company in Cleveland. H.A. Tremaine was treasurer and his brother-in-law, J.B. Crouse, was Vice President. They enticed Frech to Peerless and so he wasn't with GE during the period 1913-1921.

From 1922 to late 1925 Frech was the Manager of the National Lamp Works. In May 1927 he became Manager of the Incandescent Lamp Department. In 1934 Frech retired as Vice President and General Manager of the Lamp Department. This move was made so that he could devote time to the things he really liked to do. This was at the beginning of the fluorescent lamp development period. Frech contributed to this effort with circuits, ballasts and phosphor coating techniques. He was issued 16 patents.

Theodore Frech married and had a daughter. He moved to Phoenix, AZ in 1946.