Frederick Halbich, a retired machinist passed away after a long illness at the Bear Hill Nursing Center in Stoneham on Tuesday morning, January 1, 2019. He was 88 years old. Fred was born in Boston. His father, Bruno Halbich, was an immigrant from Austria and his mother, Margaret Halbich, was an immigrant from Germany. He grew up in in Winthrop and East Boston. He was a graduate of East Boston High School and then went to Peterson Trade School to learn the skills to become a machinist. Fred served in the Navy for over two and a half years as a BT2 (Boiler Tender 2nd Class) aboard the U.S.S. Wright. At the time, The Wright was a newly built light aircraft carrier that toured the East Coast of the United States and beyond and was a member of the Second Task Fleet. After his military service, he went to work as a machinist. Fred started with Sylvania, which became GTE which finally became Verizon. He spent 39 years with the companies and was known for his creativity and craftsmanship.
Fred enjoyed keeping active and had a great affinity for the water. He was always puttering around his home and could fix almost anything. He was the “go to person” for family friends and neighbors when something needed repair. He had a vast supply of parts and tools in his basement and could fix, fabricate a new part, or rebuild almost anything. He had his tool box ready whenever he visited his children, just in case they needed a helping hand. Growing up in Winthrop and East Boston, he loved being on the water. He was a longtime member of the Pheasant Park Yacht Club in Winthrop. Over the years he had a wide variety of boats from cruisers, Boston Whalers to pontoon boats. As long as it had an engine and could move across the water, he was happy. He loved cruising and fishing. In his later years, he enjoyed his second home in Lebanon Maine on Northeast Pond. It was the gathering spot for his children and their families and he loved that time shared with all of them, especially the grandchildren. He introduced them to boating, pulled them on tubes and water skis, and created countless family memories. When his children needed babysitters for work, a night out, or for any other reason, Fred happily volunteered. That time spent with his grandkids was something he cherished. Fred was also a person who gave of himself. He volunteered at the Winchester Hospital for 18 years helping patients with their paperwork at the Radiology Department. He never made a big deal about himself, it was always about his family, friends, and those who needed assistance.
Fred was the husband of 66 years of Nancy A. (Roberts) Loving father of Christine Donovan of Billerica & her late husband Paul, Paulette Harris & her husband David of Tyngsboro, and Frederick of Salem, NH & his late wife Paula. Brother of the late Rudi Sissa and Margaret Tipping. Grandfather of Sara Halbich, Crysta & Stephanie Harris, and the late Paul “P.J.” and Michael Donovan. Great grandfather of Cameron Maglio-Donovan.
A visitation will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., Burlington (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Sunday, Jan. 6 from 3-6 p.m. Funeral from the Sullivan Funeral Home on Monday, Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Malachy Church, 99 Bedford St., Burlington at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. The interment will be private. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to Winchester Hospital, c/o Philanthropy, 41 Highland Ave, Winchester, MA 01890. You may also donate online at support.laheyhealth.org/WINgive. For directions obituary & online guestbook see www.saint-malachy.org or www.sullivanfuneralhome.net
Eulogy by Stephanie his granddaughter
If Fred was sitting next to you right now, I can guarantee you, he would’ve just finished saying, “You’ve got to pay attention... to the speech.” But I’ll keep it short, sweet and light-hearted because I know that’s how Fred, or Papa, as I would call him, would’ve liked it.
Born in East Boston, Fred was the youngest of three. After losing his father at a young age, he formed a strong and supportive bond with his mother and siblings. When he moved in with his sister Margaret and her husband Charlie, his relationship with her family was strengthened. After serving in the navy, he met Nancy, his soon to be wife and partner for life. It’s only fitting that the two met at the beach, as they would later travel the world, visit the beaches of Hawaii, and retire on the lake. Some say the two shared a certain, old-fashioned, committed type of love. Nancy and Fred built a family of three children, Christine, Fred and Paulette, who would then grace them with five grandchildren, PJ, Mike, Sara, Crysta and myself. As his youngest grandchild, I am honored to speak on his behalf.
When I remember my Papa, I remember his consistency. Like how he worked the same job for forty years, and volunteered at Winchester hospital for nearly eighteen years.
Or how he always wore the same handful of T-shirts and sweatshirts. His bright green bomber jacket, Giants sweatshirt, and grumpy T-shirt are some of our favorites.
How he always, without fail, complimented Nana’s cooking, by saying “Nancy that was delicious.” Even when she accidentally gave him mint jelly, instead of relish, for his cheeseburger.
How he always had to eat a plum and black licorice on a boat ride.
Or how he taught everyone how to throw a football. He was tough and firm with his son Freddy, throwing it harder and harder with each throw, but gentle with his daughters Christine and Paulette. Although according to Freddy, Christine threw a pretty mean spiral for a girl.
How he always won in a thumb war. His hands and fingers were remarkably strong. I’ll admit that I never beat him.
How he always found a way to fix something broken or invent something new. I remember being at the lake with Sara and Crysta and begging for some toy that could easily fill up water balloons. Papa said no need for that. He would make us one. No need for his son Freddy to hire someone to tile his bathroom floor. They would tile it together. He was the best handyman around.
How he always stopped into Virgo Haircutters to visit his daughter, Paulette, while she was at work.
How he always spelled the word “Son” S-O-N-E. Thus, originating little Freddy’s nickname, “Sone”.
How he and his daughter Christine always said their nightly prayers together, to be grateful for each day.
How he always walked me and my sister Crysta to and from the bus stop. Even in freezing temperatures, Papa would wait for the bus to pick us up at 7:30, and would be back at 2:30 just in time to hug us when we got home.
How when we would say “I love you Papa”, he would always reply with a simple, “Me too.”
When I reflect on these times, I’ve now come to realize that Papa’s consistency was more than just a uniform routine. It was loyalty. Loyalty to the people he cared for and loved. In being loyal to his family and friends, he taught us how to be loyal. There are three examples I’d like to highlight to portray just how great of an influence Fred’s loyalty had on his loved ones.
First, in his good friend Charlie. When Charlie began work at Fred’s company, Fred took him under his wing. According to Charlie, Fred taught him everything he knows. A while back, when my family and I were out to eat for Papa’s birthday, Charlie, not present at the dinner, unexpectedly took care of the bill. Papa was so grateful I think he was in tears. About three years ago, when my family and I were at Nana and Papa’s house for Christmas Eve, Charlie, unexpectedly showed up to the house, with a group of friends, and performed Christmas carols on the front lawn. That night was the happiest I’ve ever seen Papa. He, without doubt, was in tears this time. Fred gave his loyalty to Charlie and Charlie gave it right back.
Next, in his sons and daughter-in-laws. My dad, Dave, Fred’s son-in-law, shared something on Fred’s obituary that I thought was worthy of sharing with you all. He quoted, “If you gotta have a father-in-law, I couldn't have ended up with one any better than Fred! Grumpy at times, no one in or out of the family will argue that, but that was all just a BIG front for the soft, loving, and loyal guy that he was.” I’m sure his other in-laws, the late Paula Halbich and Paul Donovan are saying the same thing to Fred up in heaven right now.
And of course, Papa instilled his loyalty in his wife and children, who, in the last year of his life, visited him every day, week, and month, at the Bear Hill nursing home. Everyone would sit with him for hours and bring him treats. Nana would bring a pudding, Freddy, a slice of pizza from La Cascia’s, Christine, a banana, and Paulette, some gum. One night, my mom Paulette was leaving the nursing home, after just helping her father use the restroom, get changed, and get into bed, when a nurse approached her. He introduced himself and asked, “How do you know how to care so well for your father? Are you a medical professional?” She replied, “No, I’m not. But I’m a daughter. Isn’t that enough?”
To conclude, I’d like to remind us that without darkness, we would not know light. Without the bad, we would not know the good. And without death, we would not know life. In these times of darkness and death, I ask you to remember the light and life of Frederick Halbich. A loyal son, brother, father, grandfather and friend. May he rest in the sweetest peace with his grandchildren, P.J. and Mike.