Born on February 1, 1913 in Wichita Falls, Texas, Fred Walter Householder began his study of languages at an early age by reading the dictionary. After completing high school in Burlington, Vermont he attended the University of Vermont, where he received his A.B. in Greek in 1932. The following year he entered graduate school at Columbia University where he took his first linguistics course from scholar Louis Gray. Completing his M.A. in 1934, he continued his studies in pursuit of his Ph.D., receiving the Drisler (1935-1936) and the Seymour Fellowships (1936-1937) which allowed him to study at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. While in Greece, Householder took up studying ancient doors and sills on top of his studies of the Greek language.
Following the completion of his Ph.D. in 1941, Householder continued to lecture at Columbia University in Greek and Latin until 1946, at which point he took a position as an associate professor of classics at Allegheny College. Two years later, he joined the Indiana University faculty as an assistant professor of classics where he quickly rose through the ranks being named associate professor in 1951 and full professor in 1956. Over the next several years Householder served a variety of outside roles: a visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Michigan, the University of Hawaii and as a Guggenheim Fellow (1958-1959). He retired from IU in 1983.
During his time at Indiana University, Householder played an instrumental part in the elevation of the university's linguistics program to departmental status. Initially, there was just an interdisciplinary linguistics committee which formed the nucleus for the later establishment of a linguistic department. From 1959-1962 he served as the chairman of the Linguistic Committee. In 1963 the College of Arts and Sciences officially created the Department of Linguistics of which he served as the chair from 1974 through 1980.
Although Householder held a busy schedule he always continued to research and write on a variety of areas including: Greek, Latin, Azerbaijani and much more. He and his colleague even installed the first Sona-Graph machine in the department's phonics laboratory. He was an active member in multiple professional societies and associations including: American Philological Association, Linguistic Society of America, Archaeological Institute of American, Modern Greek Studies Association and the American Association of Phonetic Science (participating on boards and committees too). He also wrote and participated in multiple research grants including for the United States Air Force on Turkic, specifically Azerbaijani; American Council of Learned Societies on an English textbook for Greeks; Contract with Rome Air Development Command on Information Retrieval; a National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants.
Fred Walter Householder Jr. died on January 4, 1994.