ASHLAND — As a developer, Howard Fafard had a talent for seeing a piece of land and
imagining the possibilities, said Framingham City Councilor Phil Ottaviani Jr., a family friend
“He could envision the finished product,” Ottaviani said.
A titan in the Central Massachusetts real estate and development industry for more than 40
years, Fafard, along with his wife Madlyn, built hundreds of developments throughout the state.
Their company, Fafard Real Estate and Development Corp., had operations in Milford and
“His impact stretches across MetroWest and even farther — strip malls, single family homes,
condominium complexes, retail plazas — you name it,” said Ottaviani
More:Howard Fafard once owned John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Palm Beach manse
Fafard died Saturday at the age of 81, according to his wife. He leaves behind a legacy
spanning hundreds of buildings and homes and a business spanning multiple decades.
“Howard was driven by being the best he could be — by the American dream,” said Madlyn
Fafard of her husband and business partner. “He was very highly intelligent, wanting to create.
He loved working the land. I used to call him an artist with the land. He could visualize how he
wanted to develop something.”
Fafard got his start in the construction industry as a teenager working at a concrete company in
Milford. He worked under the tutelage of the store’s owner, where he began learning
construction skills, said his wife.
Madlyn said Howard attended a few classes at Worcester Polytechnic Institute but didn’t
graduate. He just learned what was necessary for him to succeed.
“He was a kid in a hurry,” she said.
By his mid-20s, Howard Fafard began building houses in Wellesley and Wayland, then moving
on to Framingham and Ashland.
Madlyn was a real estate agent in Ashland at the time, selling Howard his first piece of land
there. They soon went into business together, and then married.
Fafard built his first condominium in Ashland, Madlyn Fafard said. Today, there are more than a
1,000 of his townhomes in Ashland, and you can find his buildings as far away as Salem and
“We spent 30 years in Ashland and it was fun,” Madlyn Fafard said. “We expanded up into
Salem and Milford.”
Madyln Fafard said Howard liked to prioritize value.
“He used to pound it into me all the time, ‘Make sure you advertise that I build value,’” she said.
Madlyn said her husband loved the hands-on work and teaching young people the ropes. She
said many people know Fafard because he helped give them their start.
“He used to bring young fellows in and teach them how to run the machine,” she said. “If they
couldn’t do it right, he would jump on a machine and show them how to do it.”
Local farmer Doug Stephen said he met Fafard in 1977 after Fafard bought a farm on Grove
Stephen wanted to save the land and use it as a farm. Fafard planned to build 59 houses on it.
A week after their first conversation, they had dinner together and struck a deal. They split the
64-acre parcel. Stephen would build a barn on his side, with Fafard building homes and repair
the barn on his side.
A friendship blossomed.
“I would describe him as a thinker, doer, a gentleman — tough, determined and focused,”
Stephen said. “He was a guy who knew the land.”
Fafard’s son, Kenneth, started working at the family business after graduating from high school
in 2007. He said he learned a lot from his dad.
“I learned through the lens he provided,” he said.
The most valuable thing he learned was the value of forming relationships.
“Everyone was his family when it came to his personal relationships," Kenneth Fafard said. "That
was always something that I really stood by and to this day still maintain with everyone that we
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