Another Lost Hero

By Liz, thrilled beyond measure that we didn’t bear the brunt of the killer snowstorm over the weekend!

I had a totally different blog post started for today—all about killing off real people as thinly disguised characters in novels—but I changed my mind. (Don’t worry, more on that another time. I have lots to say on the topic.)

I changed my mind because something happened recently that deserves attention.

It’s been a season of loss for so many people, myself included. From personal losses to losses that touch millions of people (David Bowie, Glenn Frey, who can relate?). Today, I wanted to pay tribute to another man who was recently lost—a man named Fred.

Fred lived in Boston. I didn’t actually know Fred – we never even met – but I know some of his friends and heard about his incredible story last year after he became ill. That story compelled me to mention Fred in my latest book, in my rescue shout-out section. While Fred had many human friends, what made him special was his friendship with another species – cats.

Photo credit: Danapel deVeer

For about thirty years, he took care of hundreds – maybe thousands – of stray, abandoned and feral cats on the Boston streets. This meant giving every extra cent of his social security, which he lived off of, to the cats for food, shelter and whatever else they needed to be comfortable. It meant getting up in the middle of the night to do his feeding rounds. It meant living with extreme heartache daily, watching the plight of these cats and knowing that, no matter how much he did, they were destined to a hard life living outside in extreme heat and cold, facing traffic and wildlife and people who wished them harm.

Since becoming ill, Fred’s friends and friends of the other feral feeders have rallied to cover his feeding stations. When Fred passed away earlier this month, humans and cats alike mourned his loss. And now many of those humans are working at filling some big shoes.

I wish I could tell you more about Fred, some of the little nuances that people always share when someone special leaves their life. But really, the most important thing about Fred that we all can remember is his compassionate heart. Fred loved cats, and spent his life taking care of them. I think that’s all you need to know.

Anyone interested in Boston’s Forgotten Felines, the organization Fred worked with, should check out their Facebook page.

And if you’re so inclined, pay it forward in memory of a man who lived his life putting others before himself.
Readers, do you have a hero who inspires you?

16 Thoughts

  1. What a wonderful man, Liz. Thanks for bringing him to our attention. One of my quiet heroes is 85 and failing and I wonder how long we’ll still have him. Richard Gale has been working behind the scenes in my town for a couple of decades: planting trees, landscaping the middle school courtyard, establishing an outdoor skating rink, all as a volunteer. Closest to my heart, though, was his tireless maintenance of our historic Friends Meetinghouse. He almost singlehandedly moved the granite steps in front in his late seventies. He built period-appropriate cabinets, found someone to restore the ten-foot-high windows, made sure the snow and ice were off the walkways, and so, so much more. All without tooting his own horn or complaining, and always with a twinkle in his eye.

  2. The world lost a true hero and he will be greatly missed. Thank you Fred for caring when others looked away and for being part of the solution. You will forever be an inspiration to animal advocates everywhere.

  3. I too never met Fred. But I mourn his loss. I know his friends miss him terribly. And the cats! What a beautiful passage you’ve written, thank you. Joni, his dear friend, will appreciate it. I rescue, house and feed kittens/cats everyday here in my part of the world, with a group of volunteers who work tirelessly beside me. It is work that is hard on the heart and fills it at the same time. Again, thank you!

  4. Fred was indeed special, amd this was a lovely tribute, Liz. He wasn’t in the public eye like some of the others who died recently, but he was his own kind of human hero.

    I am reminded of Mandy Morton, who thankfully, is still alive and kicking in England. A musician and theatre journalist for many years, she has a special fondness for cats. Mandy decided to write a series of wry, humorous books about a world where all the characters are cats. “The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency” series will soon be available in the US, and proceeds from sales all go to housing and caring for senior and homeless cats. Ankther hero in action.

  5. I am from “Boston” I worked at “Angell Memorial Animal Hospital” for 20 years. I am now in “Miami” Volunteering at “MDAS” a “huge” animal shelter, which I Love. Extremely happy & proud to read this very deserving tribute to “Fred”. Thank you for recognizing all that “Fred” has done & making people aware of all his hard work & dedication for so many years & all the cats he has fed, cared for & Loved. “Joni Nelson” is right up there with “Fred” working tirelessly “all the time” with her wonderful volunteers caring for & feeding the neglected, starving & unhealthy cats they all Love….”Very Special People”

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