Pete Frates, who drove the viral success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is being remembered by his loved ones for being a champion and inspiration to people around the world.
Frates, a native of Beverly, died Monday after an eight-year battle with the progressive neurodegenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 34.
“Pete was beloved worldwide as a champion and advocate for ALS,” his loved ones wrote in his obituary. “Diagnosed with the disease in March 2012, Pete refused to give in and accept what fate had cruelly dealt him. Instead, he was ready to put up a fight. Buoyed by his rallying cry to others — ‘Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don’t be afraid to be great’ — Pete set about changing the world by bringing attention to ALS.”
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which Frates championed to viral success in 2014, is credited with raising over $225 million worldwide to fight the disease. On Tuesday evening, friends and family members gathered in the Beverly park named for Frates to remember the 34-year-old.
— Justin Bourke (@JBourkeOn7) December 11, 2019
“He got a terrible diagnosis, a hopeless prognosis and he saw it as an opportunity to help others,” his mother, Nancy Frates, told the Boston Herald at the event. “And that’s the lesson — it’s that you look at your life and you see what is it worth, and it’s worth what it does for others. So I lost my son but I gave him to the world, and I gave him to the cure of a disease that’s so richly deserved, and hopefully will be sooner rather than later.”
John Frates said his son’s journey on the Earth might be over, but his impact remains.
“I’m convinced he’s right now saying, ‘There it is. Can’t you see it? There’s the cure.’ Just motivating somebody to look at it,” he told reporters.
John Frates, the father of iconic ALS advocate Pete Frates, spoke for the first time since his son's death tonight during a vigil at Pete's Park in their hometown of Beverly. https://t.co/TVJ1cgzwHp pic.twitter.com/udkaKewHRW
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) December 11, 2019
In his obituary, Frates was remembered by his loved ones for being a “naturally gifted athlete who possessed charm, wit, intelligence and a caring nature.” He served as captain of the football, ice hockey, and baseball teams at St. John’s Prep in Danvers during his senior year of high school. His “prominence” on the baseball field only grew from there, with the Beverly native going on to play at Boston College and eventually the German Baseball League in Hamburg before his ALS diagnosis in 2012 at the age of 27.
And while baseball was his “ultimate passion,” family was his true love, his relatives wrote. He leaves behind his wife, Julie, and their daughter, Lucy.
“Although Pete will be most remembered for being the inspiration behind the Ice Bucket Challenge, those who knew him best will remember him for his friendship, leadership, determination and kindness,” his loved ones wrote.
A funeral service for Frates will be held Friday at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill. Read the full obituary, shared by Campbell Funeral Home, below:
John Peter Frates III, a champion, advocate, crusader and inspiration to millions of people worldwide, passed away Monday at his family’s home in Beverly surrounded by his loved ones after a near eight-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Pete was beloved worldwide as a champion and advocate for ALS. Diagnosed with the disease in March 2012, Pete refused to give in and accept what fate had cruelly dealt him. Instead, he was ready to put up a fight. Buoyed by his rallying cry to others — “Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don’t be afraid to be great” — Pete set about changing the world by bringing attention to ALS.
He and his family, friends and many, many supporters — collectively known as ‘Team Frate Train’ — made it their mission to raise education, awareness and funds for a cure for this dreaded disease. In doing so and helping to create the worldwide sensation ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, which raised over $220 million dollars to fight ALS, Pete became an internationally known hero and inspiration to millions of people around the globe.
Pete was born in Beverly, MA on December 28, 1984. A naturally gifted athlete who possessed charm, wit, intelligence and a caring nature, Pete made friends easily — many of whom remained lifelong friends. He grew up playing baseball, football and ice hockey among other sports, and followed in his father John’s footsteps by attending high school at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, MA. Pete’s academic and athletic prowess grew at St. John’s as he went on to serve as a varsity captain of the Eagles’ football, ice hockey and baseball teams during his senior year and was an all-star in the state’s best high school league, the Catholic Conference, before graduating in 2003.
Matriculating to his parents’ John and Nancy’s alma mater, Boston College, Pete’s prominence on the baseball field only grew in college at The Heights. A powerful lefthanded slugger with a rocket of [an] arm around from the outfield, he thought the game like a coach and could anticipate what would happen on the diamond before it did. He notably crushed a home run into the bullpen at Fenway Park during the Baseball Beanpot championship game against Harvard his junior year, and also knocked in a school record eight RBI, which included a grand slam and a 3-run homer, as a senior for the Maroon and Gold. Pete led the Eagles in home runs as both a junior and a senior, and led the squad in stolen bases (19) as a senior.
Pete’s baseball journey continued after he graduated from Boston College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He played in Connecticut, the Hawaiian League in Honolulu, and the German Baseball League in Hamburg. It was in Hamburg that, along with his teammate and best friend from St. John’s Prep, Pete had the opportunity to travel all over Europe and visit Italy and London, the latter city in which his older sister, Jenn, and her husband Dan were living.
Boston College named Pete its Director of Baseball Operations in 2012, and he started its Baseball Mentoring Program, helping to offer options and a glimpse at what pro ball was like for players who wanted to take that route, while also talking to former Eagles about what life after baseball entailed.
While baseball was an ultimate passion for Pete, his true love was his family, his wife Julie who he married in 2013 and their beautiful daughter Lucy who was born in 2014. It was with their unwavering support, along with the tireless care provided by loving and patient doctors, nurses and caregivers, that allowed Pete to further his mission to find a cure for such a horrific disease.
Although Pete will be most remembered for being the inspiration behind the Ice Bucket Challenge, those who knew him best will remember him for his friendship, leadership, determination and kindness.
Pete is survived by his wife, Julie (Kowalik); his daughter, Lucy; parents John and Nancy Frates; sister Jenn Mayo and her husband, Daniel; brother, Andrew; his loving nieces and nephew Addie, Freya and Jack Mayo; in-laws Joseph Kowalik and Kate Finn; brother-in-law Joseph Kowalik; sister-in-law Dr. Bita Zahedi; grandparents Gerald and Joan D’Alfonso, and Jack and the late Margaret Frates; aunts and uncles Judith and Arthur Cronin, Chris and Karin D’Alfonso, Dana D’Alfonso, Mary and David Cloyd, Joseph and Catherine Frates, Kathleen Holman, Margaret and Ken Fraser, and Christopher Frates; many cousins who he loved dearly; and legions of friends from Beverly, St. John’s Prep, Boston College and all over the globe.
Pete’s funeral Mass. will be held on Friday, December 13 at 11 a.m. at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, located at 28 Commonwealth Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Mass, alongside the campus of his beloved alma mater, Boston College. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. A celebration of Pete’s life will be held on Monday, December 16 from 4 – 8pm at the Mahoney Wellness Center on the campus of St. John’s Preparatory School, 72 Summer Street, Danvers.
His arrangements are being handled by Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to extend an expression of sympathy are asked to please consider making a donation to the Peter Frates Family Foundation, 21 Landers Drive, Beverly, MA 01915 or online at petefrates.com/donate. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com.