RANDOLPH, NJ- The life of loyal 40+ year volunteer Randolph fireman Francis J. Handy Jr, was honored by many last week. Undoubtedly, Handy's dedication to the Randolph Engine Co. No. 5 will always be remembered by fellow members. Above all, his selflessness, giving spirit, and family values are the heartfelt impressions he's left on anyone that knew him.
Handy was born in Brooklyn, NY and was a Randolph resident since 1970. He served in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserves from 1956 to 1962 and was a member of the U.S. Marine Corp League, L/Cpl Robert J. Slattery Det. #206. He worked as a Senior Systems Engineer at IBM for 25 years in West Orange.
Randolph Engine Co. No. 5 boasts having the privilege of Handy's dedication as their fireman and friend. His responsibilities included:
- Randolph Engine Co. No. 5, 44 years served
- Randolph Township Fire Department - Life Member
- Randolph Engine Co. No. 5 Chief, 1977-1978
- Randolph Engine Co. No. 5 President, 1985-1986
- Randolph Engine Co. No. 5 Treasurer, 1990-2009
- Randolph Township FD Board of Engineers, 1975-1991
- Randolph Township Firemen's Relief Association Secretary, 1999-2015
- Member Morris County Fire Chiefs Association
- Member NJ State Fire Chiefs Association
- NJ State Firemen's Association - Life Member
- NJ State Exempt Firemen - Life Member
During the Randolph Engine Company No. 5 meeting on Monday, members warmly reminisced about their beloved friend Handy and of his lengthy commitment to the engine company. However, faces really lit up when members discussed Handy's pure heart and selfless character.
"He'd do anything for the fire house. He devoted a lot of his life here. Besides being with his family and kids, this was like a second home for him," said Matt Goebel, Battalion Chief and friend to Handy for 26 years.
President of Association Jeff Novak added, "He inspired others with his dedication to everything that we do here even until just a couple months ago. He'd be up here for every event. We have these fundraising events, and even 40 years after he joined he was still involved in everything that goes on. He leads by example. When he was sick he didn't want to talk about how “He” felt, he was more concerned about other people and just helping other people. He'd give you the shirt off his back."
Goebel will fondly remember “His smile… He had a warm smile."
All agreed Handy had a big heart and great sense of humor. "Frank was very happy, and always joking around with the other guys. He always took everything in stride, always was good natured," adds Novak.
Outside of the firehouse Handy loved spending time with family and helping out with his grandchildren. "Frank's greatest accomplishment was probably his grandchildren. The fire department takes a back seat when it comes to family. He was exceedingly proud of his grandchildren," states Former Department Chief Ronnie Harmetz.
"After our eulogy one of his daughters said he was a fantastic father who was always responding, even when they didn't need him. She was saying when she went to college that it would be nothing for Frank to hop in his car and drive for hours to the college to see her. His whole life was built on helping others, that's what best characterizes him.”
Harmetz recalled that Handy routinely put others' needs before his own, and explained that even during Handy's illness he was concerned that Harmetz was working too hard and worried for his friend Bill lifting too much and hurting his back.
Handy was inspired to join the fire department through his cousin Charlie. "When we formed this company here we actually started out in Co. 3. There were five of us that joined Randolph Co. 3 with the intention of starting this fire company here. But (we started at #3 ) to get trained because we had no training. One of those members was named Charlie. He was Frank's cousin."
In addition, Harmetz credits Handy for his diligence during time as treasurer for the addition to the firehouse.
All agreed that Handy's ties to the community, recreation department, and his friends were all too important for him to ever leave Randolph. He would always respond to fire calls, and was even able to balance his career at IBM with his time at the fire house.
Photos of Handy in uniform and with his family framed the room. Members smiled and chuckled as they shared stories and the meeting came to a close. Surely he will be remembered for his hard work and numerous contributions. Evidently the greatest contribution to all was his selfless heart, love for life, and most of all family.