On March 16, 2016 our community lost a loyal and true North Ender who passed away far from the neighborhood she once called home, but not distant from the hearts of her friends left behind.
Five years had elapsed since Fredda and her husband Bill Lee relocated to Florida at the conclusion of a defamation case involving a first amendment issue that made its way to the Commonwealth’s highest court. The Supreme Judicial Court failed to dismiss a libel suit against Fredda, instigated by a developer, in Fustolo v. Hollander [SJC-10485]. The SJC’s refusal to apply the state’s anti-SLAPP statute (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) was a setback but not an obstacle to the ultimate resolution of protracted litigation. Still, the lawsuit had chilling implications for neighborhood advocates, community newspapers and people who care about the fate of the places they call home.
At a fund raiser for their legal defense, Fredda and Bill’s significant contribution to the preservation of the North End were publicly and gratefully acknowledged by their friends and neighbors. None of us, who witnessed this couple’s valiant struggle as expenses mounted for litigation and the launch of their North End News Weekly, will soon forget their humor, optimism and grace under fire. What happened to them could easily have happened to any of us. The forces that hastened their departure still lurk in the shadows of the neighborhood.
We will miss Fredda and extend our heartfelt condolences to Bill Lee who stood faithfully by her side in both adversity and adventure.
Below are the inscriptions on plaques presented to Fredda and Bill at their fund raiser. At that time they had no fixed abode to display these words:
The Tough-As-Nails Award for Excellence in Journalism
In solidarity and support of our favorite rogue reporter, Fredda Hollander, who through her unwavering courage, persistence and diligence has helped to preserve America’s oldest neighborhood. Despite intimidation, she courageously stood up to bullies and their efforts to silence public discourse. She has earned the affection and gratitude of her friends and neighbors in Boston’s North End.
The Supportive Spouse Award for Loyalty in a Time of Adversity
To Bill Lee for his steadfastness and devotion to his wife and dearest comrade, as well as for his advocacy as a private citizen on behalf of his neighborhood. His perseverance and hard work have made the North End a better place in which to live. His friends and neighbors acknowledge his dedication with sincere gratitude.
With affection, Thomas F. Schiavoni
Bill Lee has requested that donations in memory of Fredda be made to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, from where they adopted several of their beloved dogs.
Animal Rescue League of Boston
10 Chandler Street
Boston, MA 02116
Or on-line at http://www.arlboston.org/