GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Legacies: Henry "Hank" Fries

Richard Haggerty | April 2017

Henry “Hank” Fries at his inauguration as president of the New York State Association of Realtors in Albany in 2010. Fries passed away at the age of 81 earlier this month.

Last Friday (April 7th) the Realtor community lost an invaluable leader, an industry advocate, and a great friend, Henry W. “Hank” Fries. I had the true privilege to have known Hank for over 30 years, back when he headed the commercial division for Houlihan Lawrence Inc., prior to striking out on his own as a commercial broker. Over the years not only did we develop a close working relationship, we also developed a friendship that lasted decades.

Hank was president of the Westchester County Board of Realtors in 1990 and I still vividly remember his installation as a uniquely glamorous affair. Twenty years later, he was installed as President of the New York State Association of Realtors. He was also very active with the National Association of Realtors, serving in several key leadership positions. What many do not know was that Hank’s foray into commercial brokerage was a second career. His first career was as a pharmacist, eventually opening a pharmacy in Goldens Bridge.

What truly set Hank apart were his generosity of spirt and his truly wicked sense of humor. Perhaps not the greatest public speaker, Hank would constantly poke fun at himself in his self-deprecating manner and could literally bring the house down with his one-liners. He could put anyone at ease with his easy-going manner and quick wit.

Hank’s true passion was legislative advocacy for Realtor issues. He forged strong relationships with many local, state, and federal political leaders based upon honest and straightforward communication and his sense of humor. He was one of the first recipients of the HGAR Legislative Advocacy Award when it launched in 2013.

He cared deeply about his Realtor family and devoted himself unsparingly to working on our behalf. He spent untold hours helping my predecessor Gil Mercurio locate and negotiate a lease for new office space at the Pavilion Mall when we relocated some 10 years ago, not taking a penny in compensation. While we have since had to relocate from that space, the lease that Hank helped to negotiate meant that we did not have to incur any additional costs for the relocation.

Ultimately what mattered most to Hank was his relationship with family and friends, and he always had time to “shoot the breeze” over cocktails and cigars. He also was a true mentor to countless individuals (Ralph Ragette, Harding Mason, Donald Arace, and Duncan MacKenzie spring quickly to mind), and I certainly benefitted from his counsel on too many occasions to count. He has left behind a great legacy and I for one will miss him very much.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO