ASHFIELD - Frederick Howard Graves, Jr., known to all as ""Fritz,"" passed away in his sleep at his Ashfield home on Feb. 27, 2014. He was 76.
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Born at Farren Memorial Hospital in Montague City, on May 8, 1937. He was the son of Frederick H. Graves, Sr. and Bertha Eugenie (Caron) Graves of Conway.
He was a graduate of Smith Vocational in Northampton. He served in the Air Force traveling to the Netherlands and French Morocco.
Fritz married the former Janine Ann Jerome in 1957. They had two daughters, Sheila Marie and Tammy Lee Graves.
Fritz was always busy, typically working two jobs while his children were growing up. In his younger years, Fritz worked mornings as an auto mechanic, first at Reniff's, then at ""Shorty"" Bennett's garage on Bronson Avenue in Ashfield. He then worked second shift as a locomotive mechanic at B&M railroad in East Deerfield until he retired.
He eventually built his own auto repair garage on Baptist Corner Road in Ashfield. He serviced the vehicles of his neighbors and many others until increasing regulations became cost prohibitive. Fritz travelled to auctions to buy cars and trucks, which he then sold for affordable prices from his garage. During the early 1970's, there were many cars around the area with state of New York decals blackened out, as they were previously official vehicles that he purchased from auction.
Fritz was an enthusiastic trapper, a skill he learned in his early years, and continued until outlawed in Massachusetts. He developed interests in Scottish Highland cows and oxen. He could often be seen walking around town training a yoked pair of young oxen.
Fritz truly enjoyed the company of ""old timers"" such as Wally Doneilo, Henry Warger, ""Stub"" Pease, Clare Hall, Jim Colson and Benny Hawkins among others. Brian Dickinson and Fritz shared both a friendship and a work relationship through the garage. He had a large network of friends among patrons of a number of social clubs and organizations.
Fritz leaves his daughters, Sheila and her partner Michael Epstein and Tammy and her husband Gerry Bergeron; his former wife; a brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Penny Graves of Buckland; his sister, Lorraine Elwell of Greenfield; four grandchildren, Mandy and Elisha Sweet, Aaron Pollen, Kyle Wolfram; a great-granddaughter, Jordyn Guzman; an aunt, Catherine Clark; and five nieces and nephews. He also leaves a special friend, Debbie Spat. He was very fortunate to have been befriended by a number of special women throughout his life.
If you were lucky enough to have known him, and he liked you, you were fortunate enough. Everyone had their own unique experiences with him. Nan at Elmer's felt like she had finally ""made it"" when Fritzy's shadow graced Elmer's threshold. He had an uncanny ability with a book of matches to make an engine run again.
His daughters would like to thank Loralynn for watching over both he and ""Lady."" We know there's a great party going on somewhere, welcoming him and passing him a PBR.
A memorial gathering will be held Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Polish-American Citizens Club. His daughters would appreciate any ""Fritzy"" stories, in written form, so they can create an album of memories.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club, P.O. Box 326, Ashfield, MA 01330.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home in Shelburne Falls.
Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home Inc
40 Church St
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
Published in The Recorder on Mar. 8, 2014