“St. Francis of Assisi once wrote, ‘He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.‘
Bill’s legacy, besides the ideal that being covered in sawdust is the best way to be, is that no matter what, do everything you do with heart. Bill, your heart made this world a better place, and will continue to do so through all of the people you touched over the years. Rest in the sweetest of peace.”
That is how the loved ones of former Fair Havenite and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate William B. “Bill” Havens want him to be remembered. The 56-year-old woodworker, husband, father and friend passed away suddenly on April 9 at Riverview Medical Center.
Born in Plainfield, the son of June Lindland Havens and the late Richard Havens, Bill was raised in Fair Haven. He later lived for many years in Little Silver, prior to moving to Shrewsbury in 2013.
“The life of this gentle giant is not ended by this obituary, but rather it is the hope that all reading this get a glimpse into some of the reasons that made Bill so special and why he will surely live on in the hearts and in the actions of so many,” his loved ones said in his obituary.
Known as a caring, compassionate “people person” with a great sense of humor, Bill was known to forge and hold dear many connections in his lifetime, offering support “anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Local outings with Bill were known to last longer than usual, because he knew or got to know most people wherever he went.
And his love of community and people showed in the flood of condolence messages on social media when news of the loss hit.
“A true rare man both as a craftsman and a person,” RFH grad Jim Brickle said. “A very sad loss.”
“What a shame!” said Scott Gilbert. “Bill was such a nice guy and great athlete! Rest easy!”
“Bill was such a nice guy, this is so heartbreaking,” said former Fair Havenite and RFH grad Jill Sorrentino.
“Such a great guy lost way too soon,” said Chris McKissock. “Bill and I went to grade school together in Fair Haven NJ growing up. I had no idea of his woodworking abilities until so many years later when I ran into him. He always struck me as very smart and always approachable. He could hang out with anyone. He was a good friend.”
After graduating from RFH, Bill went on to study at Elizabethtown College where he played baseball and soccer. An outstanding athlete from when he was a child, Bill was an accomplished pitcher.
His love of sports endured. A proud New York Mets and New York Jets fan, he played softball for many years with the Little Silver Crocs and participated in the Seaside Polar Bear Plunge each year to help benefit Special Olympics. “Bill also was a fan of any type of new, exotic sports car and surely there was a new Porsche waiting for him as he crossed the gates into heaven,” his obituary said.
While he treasured friends and loved connecting in his community, Bill’s first love was his family.
At the age of 20, Bill got a job at Little Silver Family Pharmacy. It was there that he met his future wife, Leslie Nelson. They married on March 18, 1989 at Tower Hill Presbyterian Church in Red Bank.
The couple raised their daughters, the “apples of their Dad’s eyes,” and Bill coached them in the Little Silver Rec Softball League and “was there for every event and function one could think of. He taught them to use every tool possible and change a tire on the fly.”
While Bill’s love of family came first, woodworking was a deep love of his as well. A master woodworker, Bill was admired as a true artist and was known to tell people, “If you can dream it, I can build it.” And build he did. For many years he was the owner and operator of Havens Fine Woodwork where he created many custom and varied pieces of furniture, trim, and basically anything his customers could dream of. He also worked for many years at Custom Woodwork, Red Bank, NJ and Dykes Lumber Yard, Aberdeen, NJ.
In addition to his father, Bill was preceded in death by a brother, Gary Havens.
Surviving are: his wife, Leslie J. Nelson Havens; his daughters, Rebecca and Samantha Havens; his mother, June Havens; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Dawne and Mark Dragonetti, and Jill and Mark Lyasko; his sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, Debbie and William Lamberson, and Carole Costell; his aunts, Gail Wilson and Ruth Havens; his nieces and nephews, Greg, Julianna, Bryan, Justin, and Tara; his great nephews, Shawn and James; his faithful puppies, Cooper and Riley; several extended family; and many dear friends.
Given the current gathering restrictions in place in New Jersey, a public service is being planned at a later date under the care and direction of Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 38 State Highway 31, Flemington, NJ 08822. Click here for updated service information. Information will not be available until pandemic restrictions are lifted.
A private family visitation at Thompson Memorial Home followed by burial at Fair View Cemetery, Middletown, took place under the care and direction of Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Flemington.
Please visit Bill’s permanent memorial site at www.wrightfamily.com to light a memorial candle, leave messages of condolence, share words of comfort and recollection, and post photographs of his life.
Those who wish to make a memorial contribution to honor Bill’s life are asked to do so to the Seaside Polar Bear Plunge via ‘In Memory Of’ donations. For those who wish to make a contribution via mail, please make checks payable to ‘In Memory Of’ and mail to P.O. Box 5472, Charlottesville, VA 22905. Kindly note ‘Bill Havens’ in the memo.