In Memory of Frederick Wilson Todd

Frederick Wilson Todd, a longtime resident of Truro, died at home from pancreatic cancer on April 16, 2022 surrounded by family. He was 79.

Fred was born in 1942 in Roslyn, New York. He grew up in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, following his father’s teaching and writing career. In 1950, he with his parents, Gladys and Lewis Paul Todd, moved to Truro, Massachusetts. They purchased a small cottage on Castle Road, which they renovated and winterized themselves. Fred attended Trinity (in NYC), Truro Central School, Wellfleet High School, and Phillips Andover Academy. At the University of Wisconsin, he studied History and spent his Junior year studying abroad in India. When he returned from India, he met his wife Susan Ham Todd, and they married in 1964 on their graduation day. Following graduation, inspired by President Kennedy’s vision, Fred and Susan joined the U.S. Peace Corps and spent two years volunteering in India. They were stationed in Lucknow as teachers and then in a small village named Bakewar, where they worked on community development. They have remained close to their Peace Corps cohort, “India 8,” for almost 60 years.

In 1966, Fred moved to Cambridge and enrolled at MIT, graduating with a M.A. degree in City Planning. He and Susan were part of the collaborative that founded Central School, an alternative classroom preschool and later, a K-8 elementary program, Cambridge Alternative Public School, which years later became the Graham & Parks School. Fred initially worked on playground design, with a focus on designing for accessibility. Later, Fred worked as an architect and planner for over 25 with the firm HKT, where he was a Principal. Notable projects included the multiple buildings at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Russell Towers at Fitchburg State University, which won an award for accessibility. Locally, HKT designed the Truro Fire Department building and the Gestalt International Study Center in Wellfleet.

Music was central to Fred’s life. He played drums, guitar, and bass guitar, and rejoiced in his band “OTD” and his beloved band friends in Cambridge. They favored cover tunes by the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and The Band, and continued to sing and enjoy each other’s company up until Fred’s most recent illness. Fred also found friendship through music in Truro with local friends and bandmates.

Fred and Susan retired to Truro in 2006. Fred was active in many local activities and committees but he particularly loved community construction projects, such as planning and helping to finish Puma Park and building local houses for Habitat for Humanity, which he continued even through his cancer treatment. As a member of the Truro Zoning Board of Appeals, a role he took very seriously, Fred was respected as a leader and was admired for his thoughtful contributions, collaborative partnership, and his ability to listen and create consensus.
Fred’s love of music and community drew him to the Payomet Performing Arts Center, where he started as a volunteer setting up the tent and building the music stage. For many years, he continued to volunteer his time and skills to the organization at all levels, and was eventually elected President of the Board.

Fred loved Truro’s small community and its natural beauty. As a child, he roamed freely through the Truro woods with his best friend, sometimes up to mischief. As a father and grandfather, he taught two generations to love the ocean, although he remained the most talented body-surfer of the bunch. Fred was fiercely loyal to Ballston Beach and Brush Hollow.

Fred had many hobbies, all of which revolved around building, creating and growing. From outdoor work on his property on Castle Road to tending his extensive vegetable garden (a legacy from his father), he spent as much time as he could outdoors. In his workshop, he could build or fix anything; from furniture to structural repairs, his carpentry skills were extensive. He tinkered with motors and spent countless hours maintaining his garden tractors, mowers and other assorted machines. Fred was creative in the kitchen as well and was the provider of daily family meals and many convivial dinners with friends in Cambridge and Truro. 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 an amazing range of subjects and topics from history to current events.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Susan; their daughter Gillien and her husband Kingsley Taft; their daughter Megan and her husband Nazzareno Todini; and their five grandchildren, William, Charlie and Chloe Taft, and Isabella and Bianca Todini. The grandchildren hold fond memories of their “Dapa” and his quiet but unconditional love for each of them. He included them in his favorite activities: woodshop projects, guitar playing, vegetable planting, backyard baseball games, co-running a pie-baking business, delicious family meals, and beach picnics. To his friends and family alike, he was always available for architecture consultation, fix-it projects, fresh vegetables, and a listening ear; in this quietly supportive way, he made everyone around him feel seen and known.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Frederick Todd may be made to one of the organizations that made a difference in his life: Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod, or the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in support of pancreatic cancer clinical trial research (please select the tribute tab and note Frederick Todd on the memo line).

A celebration of Fred’s life will be held on Saturday, July 30, 2022 at 10:30 am at the Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro.