A Life: Frederick S. Holroyd Jr., 1969-2017; ‘He Was Always Helping Out’

  • Hartland Fire Department Lt. Frederick S. Holroyd Jr., drives Engine 2 in Hartland around 2011. (Family photograph)

  • Frederick S. Holroyd Jr., pictured in his signature bandanna and sleeveless shirt, poses for a picture on his Harley Davidson in Florida's Blue Spring State Park in October 2017. (Family photograph)

  • When Frederick S. Holroyd Jr. died on Dec. 2, 2017, the Hartland Fire Department lettered his name on the door of Engine 2, the fire truck he always drove. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, February 26, 2018

North Hartland — Fred Holroyd’s old workspace in the garage at J.A.S Auto Body in Hartford is spotless.

It is just too soon to put a new technician in the bay that Holroyd occupied for 20 years.

His loyalty, commitment and ability to complete jobs both big and small were unparalleled, and his death on Dec. 3 at 47 has left a noticeable hole in the J.A.S. family, said several people who have worked for the company off Route 14 for decades.

The cleanliness of “Freddy’s” old workspace is eerie for those who spent upwards of 50 hours a week within a car’s length from him. It is most certainly not indicative of what it looked like when Holroyd was working, J.A.S. owner Toby Jasmin said last week.

“Let’s just say he spent a lot more time working than he did organizing,” Jasmin said with a laugh.

A trail of materials and an untidy toolbox marked Holroyd’s spot. After all, he had the same toolbox for 15 years, and you couldn’t miss it — there was always a Mountain Dew atop.

Holroyd was known to come in early and stay late, pop in for a few hours on the weekend and even spend the morning of a holiday in the shop if he had to get a job done.

“He was a very good body man and he took pride in his work,” Jasmin said.

He did a lot of “behind the scenes” labor too. If tools or equipment in the shop were broken, he would step up and fix them. If there was a snowstorm, he would arrive early to plow the yard.

Holroyd followed a routine, but he also always went above and beyond.

“He was always helping out,” Jasmin said.

Perhaps a coincidence, J.A.S. holds the repair contract for E-ONE, a fire apparatus manufacturer, and Holroyd had a love for firefighting. He volunteered for the Chelsea Fire Department in his younger years before completing a 25-year stint on the Hartland Fire Department.

All E-ONE emergency vehicles that need body and paint work within a roughly 100-mile radius of Hartford come to J.A.S. Doing body work on a firetruck comes with its difficulties because of their size and intricate paint work, but no task was too large or detailed for Holroyd.

“He knew his way around them,” said longtime J.A.S employee Brian Lashway. “He took pride in the fire trucks looking good.”

Holroyd’s attention to detail carried over into his firefighting work, said Hartland Fire Chief John Sanders.

Within the Hartland fire community, Holroyd, a lieutenant, was known as “the mayor of North Hartland” because he manned the North Hartland station.

He responded to the majority of the tones in town and had a knack for taking command and “remaining humble but stern,” Sanders said. His territory involved responding to car accidents on Interstate 91, which comes with its dangers and requires an individual who is very aware of his surroundings. That was Holroyd.

“He was always there either with his truck blocking traffic or making sure the scene was safe,” Sanders said. “We all trusted him for that.”

“He was level headed and calm about things,” said Hartland Lt. Bill Barrows. “We looked up to Fred quite a bit. He just took care of things.”

Holroyd always drove Engine 2, an E-ONE Pumper-Rescue truck, which was stationed in North Hartland.

“We called it Fred’s truck,” Sanders said.

And the name stuck. Literally.

After Holroyd died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center — he had an auto-immune disease and suffered an aneurysm — Sanders and his department took no time getting “Fred” lettered on Engine 2’s driver’s side door, right below where Holroyd’s elbow would sit.

Holroyd was always ready for what was next, and he moved at a lightning pace when a call came in, said North Hartland Firefighter Rich Williams.

“When a tone went out, Fred was ready to go. It was time for him to help one of his neighbors, so to speak,” Williams said. “He treated every call as though it was his family member that needed help.”

After all, Holroyd was a family man. Though he worked tirelessly, he made time for his wife, Carrie, of 25 years, and their twins, Mariah and Mason, now age 20.

Fred and Carrie met when he was in his early 20s and she was in her late teens while they both worked at Rich’s Department Store in West Lebanon, a place Fred went to work after he graduated from Chelsea High School in 1989. In his younger years, he moved around a lot before spending enjoyable days working on (Gramp) Lyford farm in Cheslea.

His hard-work ethic came at the early age of 12 when he became a farm hand at Crossroad Farm in Post Mills, his wife said. Holroyd also worked at Damar Chevy and Miller Auto as an auto body technician from 1992 to 1997 before leaving for J.A.S.

From 1989 to 2000, he served in the Vermont Army National Guard.

On the weekends, the Holroyds enjoyed camping, first going seasonal at Running Bear Camping Area at the base of Mount Ascutney when their children were little before hauling into Swanzey (N.H.) Lake Camping Area.

Sitting around a campfire and having a few cold ones was how Holroyd chose to relax after long work weeks.

His Mr. Fix-It mindset never really slept though, his wife said. He was always doing odd jobs, whether he knew the person or not.

A few years back, someone started a “Fred Holroyd Fan Club” page on Facebook, where people would post about the things he did for them.

“He was just the nicest,” his wife said. “He would do anything for anybody. Really.”

Holroyd’s other favorite pastime was motorcycles.

In October — two months before he died — he and his wife and several friends trailered their bikes to Florida for Biketoberfest. They spent two weeks riding 2,500 miles throughout the state, and made a special trip to Live Oak to visit Fred’s brother, Doug, whom he had never met before.

Holroyd often rode his Harley Davidson Street Glide with the same group of people. Trips to Niagara Falls and Lake George, Maine, were a few of the couple’s favorites.

Holroyd also enjoyed bowling — and he was good at it too.

“He never got his 300, but he got 297 three times,” Carrie Holroyd said.

Fred was the vice president of leagues at the old bowling alleys in West Lebanon and White River Junction.

“Fred was a wonderful man. Always smiling and joking unless you interrupted his bowling game!” one woman wrote in Holroyd’s guestbook online.

Sandy Jasmin at J.A.S. fought back tears as she reminisced about Holroyd’s time at the auto body shop and his daily routines.

Every morning, Holroyd would come into the office, pick up the Valley News and read his horoscope before reading Sandy hers.

“That’s how we knew if we were going to have a good day,” she said.

Then, every night when he left, he would pop into the office and say good-bye or good night.

“Every night. For 20 years,” she said. “That’s a long time.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.