Arthur J. "Arty" Freda, 82, a retired U.S. Geological Survey cartographic photographer who did volunteer work as a magician and ventriloquist to benefit Washington area charities, died of cancer Aug. 5 at Providence Hospital.
Mr. Freda worked more than 30 years for the Geological Survey, beginning in the mid-1940s. As a young man, he played the bass fiddle in a musical group and fine-tuned his skills as a ventriloquist. Over the years, while on overseas assignments with the State Department helping foreign officials set up photo reproduction facilities, he'd unpack his wooden sidekicks, Luigi and Willie, and put on a ventriloquism show.
After retiring from the Geological Survey in 1977, he devoted more of his time to performing for children in hospitals, for schools' anti-smoking campaigns and for senior citizens in retirement homes. He held other shows in which he charged no money but asked invited guests to bring canned foods, later donated to Martha's Table.
He also did volunteer work for the House of Ruth, the U.S. Special Olympics, Big Brothers and the Lions Club.
He was a member of the Society of American Ventriloquists, the North American Association of Ventriloquists, the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Anna J. Freda of Hyattsville; two children, Nicholas Freda of Bowie and Fredrica Mercer of Euless, Tex.; and a granddaughter.