Frances Ella Peckham Verdieck, who played tennis for 70 years and was once named Mrs. Tennis by the Redlands Racquet Club, died on Feb. 8. She was 98.
She was best known as Fepie, a nickname her high school sweetheart and future husband, legendary University of Redlands Coach Jim Verdieck, gave her.
She was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Colton.
While at Colton Union High School, she excelled in tennis as the No. 1 singles player for four years and was an active member of the Girls Athletic Association of Colton High.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She married Jim Verdieck during her senior year. Jim Verdieck was a mayor in the U.S. Marines. While, flew transport planes over the Pacific, Fepie Verdieck was a counselor and physical education teacher at Chloe P. Canfield School for Girls in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.
Their wedding joined two San Bernardino Valley pioneer families. Having arrived in a covered wagon, Jim Verdieck’s great-grandmother Hendrickson settled in Colton before the Civil War. After the Civil War, Fepie Verdieck’s great uncle, Union Capt. B.B. Porter, settled on a ranch also in Colton. She was proud of her six generations of family in the San Bernardino valley.
Fepie and Jim spent most of their 58 years of married life in Redlands, where Verdieck was an outstanding, legendary coach of tennis and football at the U of R. Fepie was active as president of the Franklin School PTA and twice president of the University of Redlands Faculty Wives Club and the University Club.
In 1980, she received an appreciation award by the University of Redlands’ National Alumni Association in recognition for her leadership and the committee’s dedication in completing a comprehensive renovation of the Casa Loma Room.
Her passion in life was tennis, in all of its facets. She taught tennis through the YWCA and was the U of R’s women’s varsity team coach for four years from 1970 to 1973. In 1970 , she was named Mrs. Tennis by the Redlands Racquet Club, working as a volunteer instructor each Saturday with the juniors. For many years, she was chairwoman of the Racquet Club’s USTA Junior Sanctioned Tournaments. Her logo is still used today by the club.
Throughout their marriage, she traveled with her husband to many foreign countries where he conducted tennis clinics. They attended many the professional tournaments for years, including Wimbledon, Queens, the U.S. Open and the French Open.
Many summers were spent at Sweet Briar College, Virginia, where her husband taught tennis or on Hilton Head Island attending the Professional Tennis Registry symposiums with the Dennis Van der Meer University clinics. Both Coach and Fepie were honorary members of the tennis registry for their contributions to tennis.
For the past 36 years, she has resided in Rancho Bernardo. She was preceded in death by her husband and daughter, Debbie Macomber.
She is survived by her other three children, Christine and Jay Sholes of Redlands, Doug and Juli Verdieck of Seattle, Randy and Kristin Verdieck of Laguna Niguel, and her son in law Jeffrey Macomber of Rancho Penasquitos; nine grandchildren.
Sandi, Trista, Casey, Matthew, Cortney, Tyler, Vanessa, Chad, and Gentre; and 14 great-grandchildren, Connor, Madelline, Abigail, Clara, Ruby, Chloe, Charlee, Noah, Tucker, Dutch, Cooper, Charlotte, Mariano and Madden.
Fepie Verdieck will be buried in the Hillside Memorial Cemetery in Redlands with her family in attendance, for the private graveside service.