Fred Scherer dies at 97

Fred F. Scherer


Fred Frank Scherer died at Valley Cares in Townshend, Vermont, on November 25, 2013, surrounded by family and friends. Born on March 1, 1915 in Queens, NY, he was eighth of nine children of William and Mary Ellen (Gerken) Scherer, and the last remaining of his siblings.

In 1930, while in an apprenticeship program of The School Art League of New York City, Fred was awarded their Saint Gaudens Medal for Fine Draughtsmanship and the Haney Medal for Fine Craftsmanship.

Fred spent the majority of his working life, 1934 through 1972, in the Exhibition Department of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). He learned the techniques of painting dioramas from his mentor, artist James Perry Wilson.  Fred created and collaborated on numerous dioramas that are still on display at the AMNH, including fifteen that he personally painted in the Chapman Memorial Bird Hall, The African Hall and the North American Mammal Hall. Millions have seen his work and the dioramas are recognized worldwide.

“His passing ends an era for AMNH, as he was the last surviving background artist who made great contributions to the museum’s finest diorama halls and his work will stand for all time as a most significant contribution to the finest natural history diorama work in the world.”        -Stephen Quinn

In 1967, Fred produced a Peruvian desert mural at the World’s Fair in New York. After retiring from the AMNH, Fred and his wife, artist, Cicely Aikman, lived for 32 years in Friendship, ME. He worked for twenty years as art consultant for the Maine State Museum in Augusta, ME, where he also painted dioramas.

A tireless and energetic spirit, he turned his attention to other pursuits including designing and building the family home. An intrepid inventor, he made an endless stream of practical devices, some specializing in successfully deterring squirrels from bird feeders. An early supporter of the “modern organic gardening movement,” he cultivated blueberry bushes and loved harvesting vegetables from his and Cicely’s large garden. While in Maine, he enjoyed going out to fish the waters in and around Friendship Harbor with his lobstermen friends.

Growing up in a house filled with music, Fred loved music of all types and was a wonderful self-taught pianist who played by ear. He continued to paint and draw up to his final days.  Fred Scherer attended the Advent Christian Church of Friendship, ME, for many years, and more recently, the Calvary Chapel in West Townshend, VT.  Fred is survived by his second wife of 44 years, Cicely Aikman Scherer, of Valley Cares, Townshend, VT; and by his four children with his first wife, Marguerite Scherer, deceased: Janice-Ellen Scherer-Dufner and her husband, Frank Dufner, of Lyman, ME; William Scherer and his wife, Sitora, of Cold Spring, NY; Deidre Scherer and her husband, Steve Levine, of Williamsville, VT; and Gregory Scherer and his wife, Makhiruy, of Cold Spring, NY; adopted daughter, Kim Scherer and her husband, Paul Young, of Seattle, WA; and stepson, Paul Breslin and his wife, Catherine, of Paris, France; 14 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and a large extended family. Fred made many friends during his life who will all miss him.

All are welcome to memorial services that will be held on Wednesday, December 4th, at 3 pm at Valley Cares, 461 Grafton Road, Townshend, VT; and on Sunday, December 8th, at 2 pm at the Calvary Chapel, Route 30, West Townshend, VT. Receptions will follow both events.

The family expresses their heartfelt thanks to Dr. Tim Shafer; to the amazing staff of Valley Cares for their professional, unending care and compassion that they gave to Fred and continue to give to Cicely; and to Susan Nelson and her wonderful group of caregivers, as well as the hospice staff of Bayada Services for their sensitive support.

Donations can be made in Fred’s name to Valley Cares, 461 Grafton Road, Townshend, VT 05353; or to the Calvary Chapel, Rte 30, West Townshend, VT 05359.