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American Patriotic 10


Frederick J. Hampson

January 26, 1926 ~ December 24, 2018 (age 92)
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HOLYOKE -- Frederick J. Hampson, a business owner, entrepreneur, one-time concert promoter and full-time bon vivant whose zest for life made him a friend of all he met, died on Christmas Eve. He passed away at home, surrounded by his family, after a short illness. He was a month shy of 93. Hampson was for many years president of Industrial Chromium, a metal plating shop in Holyoke, and served several terms on the city Planning Board. He answered to several nicknames, including Buddy. He was born in Fairhaven, Mass., and moved to Holyoke with his family as an infant. He attended local schools before leaving to attend Admiral Billard Academy in New London, Conn., after the outbreak of World War II. As an ensign in the U.S. Merchant Marine he served in the Pacific, including the Battle of Okinawa. After V-J Day he returned, at his father’s behest and with some reluctance, from the San Francisco Bay Area. Four years later he graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a major in chemistry. Around the same time, while attending a novena service at Holy Cross Church, he noticed a girl from another parish. He followed her home to Oakdale. When he asked friends who the girl was, they assured him, ‘’She’ll never go out with you.’’ The friends, however, were confusing his description of Sheila McDonnell with that of her older and wiser sister Mary. Two years later, Fred and Sheila were married. She was Irish-American; he was English and French-Canadian. There were cultural issues from the start. “Hampson,’’ his mother-in-law would ask in her Kerry brogue when they were dating, “did you meet anyone today you like more than yourself?’’ The fun-loving young man was used to rebukes from his elders. Once he was playing his guitar on the porch of the Keough family home at Pearl and Fairfield. “Hampson,’’ the punning master of the house demanded, “do you know how to play Far Away?’’ He liked to regale his family with such stories. Especially the one about how he bought their house on Madison Avenue, sight unseen and without consulting his wife, after a man in the throes of divorce wandered into his office one morning. It must have been late in the morning. Fred Hampson was never known for arriving anywhere early or on time. (This usually extended to Christmas Eve, which made the timing of his demise ironic.) He made Industrial Chromium smaller yet more profitable than the concern he inherited from his father. Yet there were environmental issues dating back to the World War II era. He first learned of the EPA’s interest in him while in bed watching a TV newscast. OSHA was not far behind. As a manager he had many faults, but he never confused a business with reality TV, or cruelty with entertainment. One night, he was asked why he seemed so down. He said, “I had to fire a guy today.’’ He did not take himself too seriously. Once, at the bar of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a local industrialist told him, “Freddie, guys like you and me built this country!’’ Freddie had to laugh at the thought. He said, “Speak for yourself, Ben.’’ He loved motorcycles. His first – a yellow Yamaha trail bike – was bought by a movie prop company and appears (hanging from a tree) in the film Moonrise Kingdom. He loved cars, including his DeLorean. He and his wife would drive it to Stockbridge and park in front of the Red Lion Inn. They’d have a drink on the porch and watch bypassers’ reactions. “Can I touch?’’ one man asked of the stainless steel surface. In later years the DeLorean and a 1963 Mercedes 230 SL coupe sat in his garage, depreciating steadily, despite his assurances to the contrary. He loved to explore the back roads of New England and he enjoyed a hike, especially along the cliffs of the Holyoke Range.  He loved to ski. He was a member of the Holyoke Ski Club and several other such groups. He was partial to Stratton and Stowe – he’d count the New York license plates -- yet had a warm spot for the more humble Berkshire Snow Basin in Cummington. He was a technophile -- a CB radio fan and an octogenarian enthusiast of the iPad. He was an early user of the handheld video camera, which he brought, sometimes unannounced, to weddings. In 1970 he helped found the Mount Holyoke College Summer Theater, which staged plays for several decades in a tent on campus. In the same year he helped his elder son get a job as a summer reporter at the local newspaper, the Transcript-Telegram. When the son was assigned to review one of the theater’s shows and panned it, the irate director got on the phone:   “What are you gonna do about that son of yours, Freddie?’’ Freddie’s answer: Nothing. The press was free … and the play was a stinker. During the school year he sometimes filled older male roles in the all-female college’s productions. These turns did not always go well. Once, by forgetting a line and giving a wrong cue, he cut an entire scene from a performance of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. His sole foray into professional show business came in 1960, when he and a friend, Kevin Griffin, brought the Kingston Trio to the Springfield Auditorium (now Symphony Hall). The Trio, which rode the crest of the folk music revival, had appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine in August, 1959. The fledgling promoters took pride in having signed the group just before their concert rate doubled. There were other side ventures, including involvement in an early wave energy machine in the 1970s. He and fellow skier Bob Savard started a company that made ski edge sharpers, which he peddled to ski shops around New England. He played guitar and loved folk music, especially its soaring harmonies, from the Weavers to the Eagles. He returned from one visit to New York City with an album by a group no one in the family had heard of – Crosby Stills and Nash. He enjoyed Cape Cod and its environs, and in later years was never happier than while sipping a cocktail on the deck of Cap’n Al’s Tiki Bar off Buzzard’s Bay. He was predeceased by the former Sheila McDonnell, the girl he spotted at the novena, to whom he was married for 65 years. He is survived by their three children: Rick Hampson of Fair Lawn, N.J.; David Hampson of South Hadley; and Heidi Hampson of Sudbury and Onset; by their spouses and partners, Lindy Washburn, Rachel Hampson and Ellen Thompson; and by their four dogs. He also is survived by four grandchildren: Jack, Nick, Tyler and Amy. Also preceding him in death were his parents, Fred W. and Aurore Hampson; his sister Patricia Rodgers; his brother-in-law William Rodgers; and his sister-in-law Mary McDonnell, who would, in fact, never have gone out with him. He is survived by another sister-in-law, Catherine McDonnell, herself 99 and extremely frail. When told of his death, she managed to enunciate, “I’m sad.’’ Which about sums it up. The funeral will be held Friday, December 28th at 10:20 a.m. from the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton Street, followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m. in Our Lady of the Cross Parish Church, Holy Cross Avenue. Burial will be in Saint Jerome Cemetery. Calling hours will be held Friday morning from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m. Memorial contributions can be made to Buddy Dog Humane Society, 151 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, MA 01776.

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