Long before Donald Trump became the president, his life was marked by tragedy when his brother, Fred Trump, Jr., passed away. Fred was the oldest Trump brother and, according to The Washington Post, was quite different from the president. “He was as far from Donald’s personality as you can get,” one of his fraternity brothers, Mel Bergstein, told the outlet.
President Trump himself has admitted that their differences led them down different paths that would become a point of division in the family. While he was happy to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the family real estate business, Fred became a pilot — something the Trump family didn’t approve of.
“There was a lot of tension between not only the old man but also between him and Donald,” said one of Fred’s friends, Annamaria Forcier. “There was a lot of tension because they didn’t want him to be an airline pilot.”
Fred Trump, Jr.'s battle with alcoholism led to his untimely death
In spite of his family’s disapproval, Fred pursued his dreams of flying, although a battle with alcoholism forced him to step down from his job as a pilot in the 1970s as he knew flying would be too dangerous. By the end of the decade, Fred was divorced, living back in his parents’ home, and working on a maintenance crew for his father (per The New York Times). When Trump married his first wife, Ivana, in 1977, Fred was his best man — something his younger brother hoped would be “a good thing for him.”
But Fred’s battle with alcoholism continued. He died in 1981 at the age of 43 (some outlets report he was 42), leaving a lasting impact on his family and the little brother who would one day become president.
Trump would later grow to regret the pressure he put on his brother, saying that he eventually learned to admire Fred’s independent spirit. “He would have been an amazing peacemaker if he didn’t have the problem, because everybody loved him,” he said. “He’s like the opposite of me.”
Donald Trump has never forgotten Fred Trump, Jr.
Over the years, Trump has spoken out about his brother’s untimely death and his battle with alcoholism. Trump himself doesn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, a decision that was shaped by the loss of his brother.
“He was a great guy, a handsome person,” Trump told People in 2015. “He was the life of the party. He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol. And it had a profound impact and ultimately [he] became an alcoholic and died of alcoholism. He would tell me, ‘Don’t drink ever’ He understood the problem that he had and that it was a very hard problem.”
Trump added, “He had a profound impact on my life, because you never know where you’re going to end up. I’ve known so many people that were so strong and so powerful [yet] they were unable to stop drinking.”
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