Life of service above self hits century mark for Beaufort's Fred Harwood

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJune 13, 2013 

Fred Harwood

Fred Harwood of Beaufort will turn 100 Friday.

"I don't know how it happened," he said.

Life has gotten harder for him in recent months. He lost his wife, Helen, in January after almost 75 years of marriage. He has started to use a walker. He quit driving -- but he still has a key, in case of an emergency.

He also keeps a sense of humor, is mentally sharp and never misses a weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Beaufort.

He's been a Rotarian for more than half a century. He may be the oldest active Rotarian in the state.

Harwood's club honored him Wednesday with a big birthday cake and a good bit of teasing. John Harvey said he's his oldest client at the barbershop. Linda Bailey said his mother had him on Flag Day so there would always be something older than he is.

Ed Duryea presented to him a letter from Sakuji Tanaka of Japan, president of the 1.2-million-member Rotary International.

"Throughout your life, you have seen and experienced many significant changes in the world, including the remarkable growth and development of our own Rotary organization," Tanaka wrote. "You have also had the opportunity to make your own important contributions to Rotary service and fellowship."

After moving to Beaufort in 1984, Fred and Helen Harwood each gave more than 4,500 hours as volunteers at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

At age 90, Harwood started mailing slightly used magazines to troops in Iraq. He got boxes from the liquor store, cut them to size, loaded them, addressed them and took them to the post office.

Now a Rotary committee headed by retired three-star Army Gen. John L. Ballantyne does the heavy lifting. They still mail two to four boxes a week, and Harwood still does all the labeling and paperwork, a task that takes him half a day each week. In 10 years, they've mailed more than 14 tons of magazines to troops.

Club member George B. Crist, a retired four-star general and the first Marine appointed to head the U.S. Central Command, knows how troops appreciate the little nod from home.

"How many magazine subscriptions do you get in Helmand Province, Afghanistan?" he asked.

Harwood also started the endowment foundation for the Beaufort club, and it has grown to more than $60,000.

Attorney Julian Levin, who was there when the fund was created, said, "There's no way to describe him. He's a kind, gentle, bright, capable, charitable person."

They say Harwood is also tough. He fell at the club one day and didn't want any help getting up. And they say he's a man of few words.

"When he talks, he means something," Ballantyne said.

One of his daughters says he's always been a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of guy.

Maybe that's how it happened. Maybe that's how Fred Harwood has lived to be 100.

Related content

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service