Fran Haddocks was a natural-born leader. The kind of man who others looked up to but who himself never lorded over them.
“He was very intelligent but he wasn’t one of these guys who made you know he was intelligent,” remembered his good friend Bob Andrade.
Haddocks was the first African American superintendent of the Bristol County House of Correction and Ash Street Jail. As such, he was in charge of security for the whole operation. He had worked his way up from being a corrections officer to a lieutenant to a colonel and then a major before becoming the top guy. He retired at the end of 2002 but continued to consult with the sheriff’s department long after on a variety of issues.
Francis L.G. Haddocks, beloved by his family, friends and colleagues, died of COVID-19 at 80 years old on May 13, 2020. He was one of the most prominent citizens on the SouthCoast to succumb to the disease.
“He meant a lot to New Bedford,” said his daughter, Belinda Bulgar, recalling the wide circle of friends and associates her father touched — from inmates at the jail to his buddies at the United Social Club, where he was president for many years.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said that Haddocks knew what it meant to be a professional. “He had complete respect for all people,” he said.
Both Hodgson and Andrade said that Haddocks was a man who just had a way of talking to people that reached them.
“Everybody else would call you a knucklehead but Fran would talk to you,” Andrade said. “Never once did I ever see him mad or frustrated.”
Hodgson remembered that it was Haddocks who talked down an inmate who had taken a corrections officer hostage during the 2000 riot at the Dartmouth facility.
“He was just someone who when he talked to you, you listened,” he said.
Haddocks’ world did not begin and end at the jail. An Air Force veteran, for many years he ran the popular Fran’s Barber Shop on Kempton Street, when Belinda and her sister Donna Robertson were growing up in the West End.
She laughed remembering her mother sending her father to have her ponytails cut when she was a young girl in the ’60s. He gave her an Afro.
He was there for her on her wedding day, with a big red van he owned. “When I got married, he made sure all of us girls arrived in that van,” she said.
Haddocks spent every weekend in football season with Bob Andrade, watching the games in his friend’s basement bar. He was there for Bob when his wife died of cancer.
Belinda said he loved to travel and going to Myles Standish State Park and he loved to cook, with his specialty being Franny’s Fried Chicken.
He’d open up his home for family and friends on holidays and greatly loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“We used to go down there for Christmas Day. He’d say, ‘Come in for a sip.’”
Haddocks was the longtime companion of Cecilia Rose, and in addition to raising his own two girls, he helped raise Cil’s five children.
“He was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” Belinda recalled.
Anita Stanford, Fran’s youngest sister, described her brother as “a very intelligent, artistic and loveable man who managed to share his talents and love between family, friends and public duties.” His oldest brother Richard described him as a community-minded man who had a commitment to local politics. “He was the go-to guy who had great connections throughout the city and politically,” he said.
Two of Haddocks’ siblings, Judith Anderson and Lloyd Haddocks, died before him.
Bob Andrade said Fran helped countless people obtain jobs. “The great thing about him was his personality,” he said, adding that he was “always kind.”
Fran was taking care of Cil, who was dying of cancer, when he himself caught COVID-19. The disease was in the house that Fran and Cil shared, and Belinda believes Cil may have brought it home from the hospital.
The Sunday before he died, Fran was having trouble breathing, and Belinda went to see him but he was resistant to going to the doctor. He finally went on Tuesday and they diagnosed him with double pneumonia and recommended he go to the hospital. He would not go, however.
Bob Andrade also tried to convince his friend to go to the hospital and even threatened to fly back from his home in Florida, but Fran insisted he had things to do, and that he had to do this his way.
“I think he was scared that he wouldn’t come out,” Belinda said. “He thought he could fight it off. He had had pneumonia before.”
Wednesday morning, the day after he had gone to the doctor, they found Fran had passed away next to his bed.
Bob said he knew Fran was worried about taking care of Cil, who was not expected to live long. She died five days after Fran. Another good friend of Fran’s, Timmy DeBarros, had also passed away from COVID-19 a month before him.
“You couldn’t have found a better, more loving guy in the world,” Bob said. “He just didn’t want to put anything on other people.”
Belinda said she just regrets that they could not have the kind of funeral service at which Fran’s many friends could have paid him their last respects.
“I wish we could have celebrated him in a big way,” she said.
The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office plans to have a memorial in September for all the members of its community who have died from COVID-19.
Email Jack Spillane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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