Frederick Wilson Todd died at his home in Truro on April 16, 2022, surrounded by family. He was 79. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
The son of Gladys and Lewis Paul Todd, Fred was born in 1942 in Roslyn, N.Y. He grew up in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, following his father’s teaching and writing career.
In 1950, the family moved to Castle Road in Truro, where they had purchased a small cottage, which they renovated and winterized themselves. Fred loved the small community and its natural beauty.
As a child, Fred roamed freely through the Truro woods with his best friend, Jerry Hoeffel, who was sometimes his accomplice in mischief — such as the time Fred asked Jerry to cut off part of his braces because they were hurting him. Jerry obliged, using a large pair of yardwork clippers. Fred’s mother was not happy.
Fred attended Trinity School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Truro Central School, and Wellfleet High School, where he considered Elizabeth Hooker to be the best teacher he ever had. He graduated from Phillips Andover Academy in 1960.
At the University of Wisconsin, he studied history and spent his junior year in India. Upon his return, he met Susan Ham; the couple married on their graduation day in 1964.
Inspired by President Kennedy’s vision, Fred and Susan served two years in the Peace Corps in India, first as teachers in Lucknow, then in community development in Bakewar. They remained close to their Peace Corps cohort, “India 8,” for almost 60 years.
Fred received an M.A. in city planning from MIT. In Cambridge, he and Susan were part of the collaborative that founded Central School, an alternative preschool, and, later, the K-8 Cambridge Alternative Public School. It eventually became the Graham & Parks School. Fred worked on playground design for accessibility.
He became a principal of the architectural firm HKT, where his notable projects included multiple buildings at the College of the Holy Cross, at MIT, and the Russell Towers at Fitchburg State University, which won an award for accessibility. HKT designed the Truro Fire Dept. building and the Gestalt International Study Center in Wellfleet.
Music was central to Fred’s life. He played drums, guitar, and bass guitar. With friends in Cambridge, he formed the band OTD; they favored covers of the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and The Band, which they played for their own pleasure. The band continued to play until Fred’s most recent illness, and he found local friends on the Outer Cape to play with, too.
When Fred and Susan retired to Truro in 2006, he became active in the community. He loved community construction projects like Puma Park and the houses built by Habitat for Humanity, which he continued to work on through his cancer treatment.
He was a respected member of the Truro Zoning Board of Appeals, admired for his thoughtfulness and ability to create consensus.
Fred’s love of music and community drew him to the Payomet Performing Arts Center. He started as a volunteer, helping set up the tent and build the music stage. He was eventually elected president of the Payomet board.
He taught his children and grandchildren to love the ocean; he was the most talented bodysurfer of the bunch. The grandchildren have fond memories of “Dapa” and his quiet but unconditional love. He included them in his favorite activities: woodshop projects, guitar playing, vegetable planting, backyard baseball, running a pie-baking business, family meals, and beach picnics. Fred was fiercely loyal to Ballston Beach and Brush Hollow.
He carpentry skills were extensive; he could build or fix anything. He tinkered with motors and spent hours maintaining his garden tractors, mowers, and other machines.
Like his mother, Gladys, Fred was also an artist; he enjoyed sketching, watercolor painting, and humorous doodles in the margins of to-do lists. An avid reader and writer, Fred was knowledgeable on topics ranging from history to current events.
For friends and family, he was always available for architecture consultation, fix-it projects, fresh vegetables, and a listening ear. He made everyone around him feel seen and known.
Fred is survived by his wife of 58 years, Susan Todd of Truro; daughter Gillien and husband Kingsley Taft of Cambridge; daughter Megan and husband Nazzareno Todini of Rome, Italy; and five grandchildren, William, Charlie, and Chloe Taft of Cambridge, and Isabella and Bianca Todini of Rome.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Fred Todd’s memory may be made to the Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod, or the Mass. General Hospital Cancer Center in support of pancreatic cancer clinical trial research.
A celebration of Fred’s life will be held on Saturday, July 30, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at the Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro.
To share a memory or leave an online condolence for the family, visit gatelyfuneralservice.com.
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