Father of Bruce Springsteen dies at 73

Asbury Park Press, 1998-05-02, by: Sheri Tabachnik, Joseph Sapia, Kelly Jane Cotter
When Michael Hansen arrived at school Thursday and was asked to go into church for the funeral Mass of Douglas "Dutch" Springsteen, he understood the importance of having a hometown. Hansen, 12, a student and altar boy at St. Rose of Lima, was proud to assist in the service. Dutch Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen's father, was a childhood friend of Hansen's grandfather. "He couldn't wait to come home and tell his mother," said Frank "Spat" Federici Jr., Hansen's grandfather and owner of Federici's Pizzeria on Main Street. "He said Bruce told them they did a nice job."

Dutch Springsteen, 73, died Sunday, in Belmont, Calif. A borough native who graduated St. Rose of Lima School in 1939, he lived in California with his wife, Adele, and daughter Pamela Springsteen since moving from the borough about 30 years ago. Dutch Springsteen is also survived by another daughter, Virginia Shave, of Lakewood, six grandchildren and two great- grandchildren. The family did not disclose the cause of death.

In a statement released last night, Bruce Springsteen said: "My father and I had a very loving relationship. With family all around, he celebrated his 73rd birthday, and my parents recently marked 50 years together. They had a warm and caring marriage. I feel lucky to have been so close to my dad as I became a man and a father myself. My mother, my sisters and I love him and will miss him very much."

A World War II veteran, Dutch Springsteen grew up in his parents' Randolph Street home. His father, Fred, a painter, and his mother, Alice, also had a daughter, but she died after being hit by a car when she was a young child, Federici said. "He used to come into the restaurant and we'd talk about old times," Federici said. "He was a very quiet teen-ager, but very handsome."

Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, who played drums in Bruce Springsteen-led bands including the E Street Band, recalled Dutch Springsteen as a friend to the band members. "To all the guys in the band, he was very nice, a very nice fellow," said Lopez, who lives in Ocean Grove. "He always treated us, when we were around, like part of the family."

In an onstage anecdote told during his 1978 tour, Springsteen described his father's intolerance for his musical aspirations. The tale, according to Dave Marsh's book "Born to Run," is as follows: "When I was growin' up, there were two things that were unpopular in my house. One was me, and the other was my guitar. "He always used to call the guitar, never a Fender guitar or a Gibson guitar, it was always the God-damned guitar. Every time he'd knock on my door, that was all I'd hear -- 'Turn down that God-damned guitar.' He musta thought everything in my room was the same God-damned brand -- God-damned guitar, God- damned radio, God-damned stereo."

But Joan Kress, 54, whose parents' Parker Street home was around the corner from the Springsteen house on Institute Street, said that all happened long ago. Dutch Springsteen "was very proud of Bruce," she said.