A Remembrance: Fredda Hollander – Bearing Witness, Speaking Truth to Power

Fredda, Bill, Sam and Pino (Photo by Joanne Spitz)

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

Please Note: 
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
c/o Advancement
10 Chandler Street
Boston, MA 02116
Or on-line at

14 Replies to “A Remembrance: Fredda Hollander – Bearing Witness, Speaking Truth to Power

  1. I was especially sad to receive news of Fredda’s health problems and eventual passing. She was a kind and steadfast supporter of, especially in the early days, something I will always remember. I was hoping she and Bill would return to the North End someday. Alas, I know they were happy with their dogs at the Florida marina.

    Those who wish to read more about Fustolo v. Hollander can do so at this link:

  2. Thank you Tom for an accurate portrayal of two of the North End’s devoted residents. Who can forget Fredda’s propeller beanie cap at public meetings. To some she may have appeared aloof but to me it showed there was a reporter in the room asking direct pertinent questions and following through with acurate reporting in print. Fredda, the kids don’t know how you played a Huge roll in obtaining 585 for their new school. I say thank you. Maybe some day city officials may get a sack and tell the truth before they shamelessly go into lobbying in the private sector. Rest in Peace Fredda. Thoughts are with you Bill.

  3. A goodbye to a wonderful friend and advocate to our cause here at the Ausonia Senior apartments, she us with her great articles she will be missed my heart and prayers go out to bill, May She Rest In Peace.
    Bob Church

  4. Fredda may you rest in peace. Thank you for your love and caring for the people and spirit of the north end. My condolences to Bill.

  5. She was a special individual may she rest in peace. My condolences to you Bill. Tom a wonderful artcicle written about her. She was one in a million. Freeway

  6. Fredda was truly a one of a kind free spirit, she was so dedicated to her beloved Bill, her dogs and her North End. She was an untiring advocate who always tried to make the North End the best it could be. She will be sorely missed. My condolences to Bill and her family.

  7. “Fredda Hollander, rogue reporter” – meant as an insult, it was actually the highest of tributes. Because Fredda was relentless in pursuing the truth of a story instead of the spin that we get from the powers that be. She was fearless in the face of bullies and tenacious when it came to protecting her beloved neighborhood and its residents. Fredda was always out there “on the beat.” And, if the SJC couldn’t understand the difference between the resources available to a Globe reporter and the resources available to someone covering community news for a pittance, no matter. There is some rough justice in the ignominious way things turned out for her adversary (Google him sometime). On this 100th Easter Monday since the Rising, an Irish sentiment may be in order for someone who loved lost causes. “But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not, I’ll gently rise and softly call, ‘Good night and joy be with you all.’” Fredda, it was a joy to know you!

  8. This is a wonderful article and gave me new insight to my cousin Fredda. My deepest condolences to her husband Bill Lee
    and her sister Nina Hollander Lewis and all of Fredda’s nieces and nephews. Marci Abrams

  9. Thanks to Tom and Mary for sharing your words of wisdom and rigorous honesty in support and celebration of Fredda’s life. May she rest in peace and may Bill be comforted by the memories of a loving woman who lived life to the full. ? ?

  10. So sorry to hear of your loss, Bill. It sounds like you lost a great life partner. Glad you had many good years together.

  11. Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts. Fredda would have been honored and pleased to be so remembered. I still can’t believe that she is gone . . .

Comments are closed.