by Stefanie Miller
St. Johnsbury residents are celebrating the life of longtime local businessman Ned W. Handy, 83, who died on Tuesday at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
"His life is to be celebrated, not mourned," said youngest son Tom Handy of New York City, adding that the family feels extremely comfortable with the fact that Ned Handy died a satisfied man, recognizing that he had lived a successful life.
"One of the ways he was a successful man was in terms of how he lived his life as a parent and the encouragement he gave his children," said Tom Handy.
Another way that Handy, a close friend of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, was successful was as a businessman. Before retiring in 1988, he and his wife, Sarah (Koury) Handy, owned and managed several apartment buildings in Lyndon and St. Johnsbury, including the Colonial Apartments.
From 1951 to 1976, he owned St. Johnsbury hot spot Ned's Steak Grill, which was located in the lower level of the Citizens Savings Bank on Eastern Avenue. William Costa Jr. of St. Johnsbury said that his friend's restaurant was the place to go "if you wanted a good steak and 5,000 pounds of french fries."
"I know (Handy) was a hard-working restaurant owner who helped a lot of customers who came in. And he was very generous," said Joe Sherman.
That's evident in the fact that Handy gave the business to four longtime employees in appreciation for their years of loyalty and service.
Handy attended the Sacred Heart Convent School in Newport and graduated from Lyndon Institute. He worked for his family's ice and milk hauling businesses in Lyndonville.
In 1976, Gov. Tom Salmon proclaimed Oct. 30 "Ned W. Handy Day" in recognition of Handy's contributions to economic progress in the state and his lifelong efforts to help families, especially needy children.
"He was not just a good businessman but a good family man," said Costa. "He took care of his family first and then his business."
Because of Handy's background - a family that immigrated from Beirut, Lebanon, and found success - said Tom Handy, his father "particularly loved to help less- than-fortunate children. He would inspire the kids and want to help them. He's spent a lifetime doing that."
"He did a lot of stuff that he never went on record for," said Tom Handy, including sponsoring meals for the needy during the holidays.
Handy loved travel, fruit trees and riding his bicycle - three miles a day early every morning.
Tom Handy said, "He is probably going to be forever known as being the robust, older man riding his bicycle up and down Main Street."