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On June 16, 2019, Harold Willard, aged 95, left this Earth to reunite with the love of his life. He was born in Northampton on May 24, 1924 to Frank S. and Mae Elizabeth (Lovett) Willard. Harold attended St. Michael's High School, but left school early to work in Springfield as he learned to be a truck mechanic. On July 5, 1945, at the age of 21, he opened his own car and truck repair facility, calling it Harold's Garage. Harold married Doris Ducharme of Leeds, MA, on June 29, 1946. They had 2 sons within the next two years, Daniel and Michael. Not only were they partners in marriage, but partners in business together for 72 years.
In 1950 Harold and Doris built their first tow truck to provide towing service to local customers as well as to state and local police. In a few years he had become one of the largest two operators doing heavy towing and recovery work in Massachusetts.
In 1958 they purchased the old Clark Coal Company property and coal trestle at the current location, tearing down the trestle to build a new garage to house equipment and fencing in the area for secure storage of towed vehicles. One will recognize Harold's fleet of trucks by the large lighted "H" on the front of each truck.
Harold belonged to many towing associations at the local, state and federal levels. In 1988 he was inducted into the International Towing Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, TN for the many contributions he made to the towing industry.
In the city of Northampton, Harold's Garage, Inc. continues to be the oldest business still being operated by its founder, Harold, for over 70 years. To many in the towing business and others who knew him, he was a legend in his field. He continued to work daily until over 90 years old, both in towing/recovery and as a crane operator. He retired from the daily operations of the business to care for his loving wife, Doris, who suffered from dementia, until her death in December of 2017.
When not working Harold enjoyed travelling in the U.S. and Canada, camping with family and friends at the family campground by the Connecticut River and sharing stories with friends. Harold and Doris spent over 20 winters in Eustis, FL, at an RV park where they were active in morning bocce games, playing cards and exploring the central Florida area.
Harold leaves his two sons Daniel Harold Willard and his wife Cindy Englehardt Willard, and Michael Frank Willard and his companion Theresa Anderson; his 5 grandchildren Todd (wife Heather), Chad (wife Kristi), Tracy, Ryan and Michael Jr. (Sandra); his 7 great-grandchildren Amanda, Garrett, Caitlin, Ava, Rebecca, Joshua and Michael Joseph. He also leaves his sister-in-law Mary Willard and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sisters Dorothy Holmes, Helen Misset, Kathleen Misterka, twin sister Marion Ganache, and brothers Robert and George.
There will be no calling hours. There will be a celebration of the lives of Harold and Doris at a later date to take place at the Willard Family Riverfront Park in the Northampton meadows on the land where they so often camped by the Connecticut River with family and friends.
The Willard family would like to express their appreciation for the care given to Harold and to the family and visitors. Special thanks to Jamie Moore, Eileen Szczepanski, Melanie Latter, Laura Gottschalk, Chandni Patel, as well as the many others who cared for Harold and his family as if they were their own.
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