An irreplaceable light burnt out in Minturn with the death of Fred Haslee (letter)
Nearly seven years ago, I wrote that an irreplaceable light, Lorraine Haslee, went out in Minturn. Sadly, a second light in that house on Pine Street has gone out. This past weekend, Fred Haslee, Lorraine’s husband, passed away surrounded by family in Massachusetts.
When I heard the news that Fred passed, a lot of my best memories of the Haslee family went through my head — for days, in fact. One of my favorites, one memory that kept making me smile, however, is an image of Fred getting ready to go on a run through Minturn. Fred’s ensemble should be preserved for posterity purposes so that in 2093 Americans can see how we dressed 100 years earlier.
On top of his head was a neon green ball cap with a misshapen bill. Below that, he wore a bright-pink tank top. On his waist, he had on shorts, but not knee-length shorts, not even thigh-length shorts, more like shorts so short they’d be illegal in many countries. To make things worse, they even had those slits up the sides that left you wondering if he had anything else on under those barely there mesh athletic “shorts.” And, of course, at the time, he sported a moustache that would make Tom Selleck envious.
Now, although the outfit left me in awe, I was more amazed that Fred had the time to even go on a run. When I think back on Fred, all I can remember is him doing things for everyone else: always helping, always volunteering, always doing what he could to make the community better. It took me many years to uncover his secret: Fred didn’t do all these things for free. He got paid. He was paid in how it made him feel. Fred felt good helping others, with no expectation of anything in return. That was the currency of his life, and he made himself rich with it. This is lesson No. 1.
For those who lived in the Vail Valley in the 1980s and 1990s, Fred was a constant presence. He was a father to two daughters, Laura and Maggie, but he felt just as much a father to the community he lived in and made his home for the majority of his life. He brought wisdom, kindness and laughter to everyone who crossed his path. He gave his time unconditionally and always made himself available to friends and strangers alike.
One of Fred’s most important mottos, though, was to “simply show up.” Many of us take this advice for granted, especially in a world where we are bombarded by television, the internet and our phones. However, Fred’s ability to consistently and constantly be present is a reminder of how important this is in a world where it is so easy to procrastinate, conveniently forget and pass the buck. This is Fred’s second lesson.
So, as you go about your day today, retrieve your own favorite memory of Fred Haslee. And, as you remember him, make yourself a promise to help someone down the street, clean up your neighborhood or volunteer in the community. Do something good for someone else, without any expectations. Your kindness will make you happier, Fred guarantees it … just make sure you show up to fulfill that promise!
Fred will be horribly missed by family and friends alike, but death can’t take our memories or the lessons Fred taught us all.