Fred Coleman Croft, a Renaissance man of Lincolnville Beach, Maine, and Martha’s Vineyard, after 24,568 sunsets, died on Feb. 27, 2018, in Lincolnville Beach from complications of prostate cancer.
However, Fred did not go “gently into that good night.” It was with grace and as a true gentleman he died in the bed he built and shared with his longtime, steadfast companion, Kristie Scott. Fres was not alone. The room filled with his family: Kristie, his son Felix, sister Caroline, his seven stepchildren, 16 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Fred, Freddy, Fredels, Faux-Pa (to his stepchildren) was a Southern boy. Born to Mary Elizabeth McDonald and Isadore Coleman Croft in Durham, N.C., he was the middle child, and only boy, flanked by his sisters Caroline and Ann.
After finishing his education, both primary and secondary, in Chapel Hill, and attending the University of North Carolina, Fred left the South for all points on the compass. And though he left the South, the South (and the Tar Heels) never left him, as he maintained his Southern charm and his unique je ne sais quoi.
Fred was a mariner, a sailor. His travels, adventures, his wit, and the winds taking him single-handed around the Bermuda Triangle. He transported caches of herbs to New England, hopped islands from the Caribbean to the Azores. Then on to Nice, France, where he anchored and had his son, Felix.
It was there, in the South of France where Fred met Kristie and what would soon become his adopted family, who were compelling enough to lure him from the Mediterranean back across the Atlantic to Penobscot Bay.
Martha’s Vineyard was a continual draw for Fred, and he spent several happy summers at his proclaimed “favorite job,” captaining the Menemsha bike ferry. A salty and memorable character, he regaled his passengers with stories, charm, and quick wit.
Fred and Kristie returned to their farm in Maine, where he was able to finally root himself and pursue his passion for all things agrarian. Together they worked on the gardens — tomatoes his favorite crop. But he had a special kinship with the centuries-old apple and peach trees in the back gardens, coaxing them to again produce fruit.
In the short summer months, and into fall, he and Kristie sailed Penobscot Bay aboard the beloved Paper Moon, Fred’s Sparkman & Stephens sailboat. When the inevitable snow and cold Maine winds came, and Paper Moon was tucked away safely for winter, Fred’s attention turned to another of his passions — furnituremaking.
Fred established a corner of the barn as his woodshop. Anyone coming to the farm would often be detoured by the warmth of the wood stove, and Fred’s humor and social charm. If he weren’t working on a project, you would find him stooped over the New York Times crossword puzzle (using a black ink pen, of course), though he could easily be distracted from his work with a game of backgammon.
Faux-Pa and Oma (Fred and Kristie) together at Fantasy Farm were the heart of a big and multifarious group. He was Pa to Felix, Faux-Pa to seven stepchildren and 11 grandchildren, and Foam-Pa to two great-grandchildren. This kith and kin will forever and ever miss him. Goodbye for now.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made to Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, P.O. Box 1552, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.
A celebration will be held on Memorial Day weekend, with the exact time and place to be announced.