On Dec. 31 following a long illness, Freda Belain Rocker died peacefully at her Boston home surrounded by family she loved, including her great-granddaughter, Alaysha Bedell, her special caregiver during her final days. A member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, Freda was born in Oak Bluffs on July 16, 1925, the daughter of Daniel and Blanche Jerrod Belain. Her mother died when she was a child and she was raised on the Belain homestead by her aunt, Sophia Belain Johnson. She attended the one-room schoolhouse in Gay Head and graduated from the Tisbury High School. While living in Gay Head, she was a member of the Gay Head Baptist Church and served for many years as town clerk. After moving to Boston she worked for Raytheon Corporation, Jordan Marsh and for more than 20 years for Aetna Insurance.
Though she left her hometown of Gay Head in mid-life she retained a love for its people, the days she spent there and often recounted memories of her childhood to her children. Those who knew her remember her excellent cooking skills. She made the best clam fritters and apple pies, and before leaving town shared many of her recipes with townsfolk of her generation.
Freda was the former wife of the late Luther T. Madison of Aquinnah, with whom she had six children. Her first two children, James and Sandra, died in childhood. Surviving her are sons Jeffrey of Aquinnah, Stephen of Boston, and daughters Kathleen Williams and Jean Ann both of Boston.
After moving to Boston, Freda met and married Harry Rocker Jr. who predeceased her. Freda and Harry enjoyed many happy years together. They traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and United States following Harry’s retirement from the U.S. Postal Service. They loved doing everything together enjoying each other’s company and were never far apart.
Freda enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, always taking great pride in their accomplishments. She enjoyed craftwork including making hand-sewn braided rugs, beadwork and crocheting, all of which she learned from her paternal grandmother, Annie Smalley. She thoroughly enjoyed her creations and generously shared her knowledge with all who cared to learn.
In her later years Freda enjoyed taking day trips with seniors from Boston. She particularly enjoyed trips to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun where she would return delighted to announce to all who inquired that she’d won more than she lost. She also enjoyed senior day trips to the North Shore, too, but would usually complain about the quality of the lunch she was “served” on those outings.
Freda was pre-deceased by her brother Kenneth F. Belain of Aquinnah, her sisters Priscilla Ingram of Middletown, R.I. and Maysel Vanderhoop of Aquinnah. In addition to her children, she is survived by grandchildren Shawn Williams of Boston, Wenonah Madison Sauer of Aquinnah, Amira Madison of Vineyard Haven, Tiffany Madison, Hakeem Madison, Tanisha Crayton, Camille Madison, Channell Madison-Fils all of Boston, Janette Dias of Vineyard Haven, and 11 great-grandchildren, as well as nephews Elmer Vanderhoop of Edgartown, Kenneth Belain of West Tisbury, Randhi Belain of Oak Bluffs, Reginald and Ronald Nalle of Middletown, R.I. and a niece, Juanita Diamondopoulos of Chicago, Ill.
A Graveside service will be Friday, Jan. 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the Gay Head Cemetery where she will be laid to rest next to her granddaughter, Kristina Williams, who pre-deceased her. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Aquinnah Cultural Center, 10 Black Brook Road, Aquinnah, MA 02535.
Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, on Edgartown Road in Oak Bluffs. Please visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.