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Frederick Purdy, Popular Docent, Dies

Frederick Wood Purdy, president of the docent group at Mission San Juan Capistrano, has died at age 66.

The cause of his illness has yet to be determined, mission officials said. Purdy became ill while traveling in Egypt and had returned home early.

For the last two years, the docents, a group of more than 100 people, unanimously elected him their president.

Mission spokesman Jim Graves said Purdy was a popular docent, and visitors often requested him by name.

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At the beginning of his tours, Purdy would tell children to join hands around the old pepper tree at the mission entrance and ask them to guess its age by its size.

“He was a mini celebrity,” Graves said.

Family, friends, docents and others gathered for a memorial service Friday at the mission’s Serra Chapel.

Purdy is survived by his wife, Dorothea, his children Christine and Stephanie, and two grandchildren, Jenna and Katie.

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