Army National Guard veteran, avid reader and sports fan


NORTH READING — Harold James Heselton, 73, of Peabody, formerly of Reading, Andover, North Reading and Wakefield, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 5, 2023 at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.

Harold was predeceased by his parents, Edith Viola (Dame) Heselton Gallant and Frederick Wakefield Heselton of North Reading; his sister, Edith Nancy Heselton of Hudson, N.H., and brother, Frederick Heselton of Amesbury; as well as his mother-in-law, Barbara T. (MacDonald) Barrett and father-in-law George R. Barrett of North Reading.

He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Barbara Ann (Barrett) Heselton of Peabody; his brother, Albert Heselton and his wife Kay of Brooksville, Florida; sisters Rita Melanson of Weeki Wachee, Florida, and Brenda Fast of Brooksville, Florida; his children, Keith Heselton of Manchester, Conn., and Matthew Heselton and his wife Andrea Cutone of Reading; his grandchildren, Zachary Heselton and Abigail Heselton of Auburn, as well as many nieces, nephews and dear friends. He was also deeply loved by his faithful canine companion.

Harold graduated from North Reading High School in 1968. Later that same year, he joined the Army National Guard, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant. He trained as a mechanic and served as a cook during his time in the service. During his military service, Harold pursued a career as a butcher. He was employed for just under 40 years by the Atlantic Food Mart in North Reading and Reading, where he was highly regarded by colleagues and customers alike.

Harry was a man of many interests and enjoyed a variety of activities, including reading mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi and crime drama. He was a big fan of “Spenser: For Hire.” In addition to his love of reading, Harry also enjoyed gardening, cooking, listening to music – especially oldies – and going for walks. He was an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching the Patriots and Red Sox. He also never missed the annual Army/Navy game.

Harry cherished spending time with his wife, kids, extended family, friends and his beloved dog. He and his wife would often be seen sharing lunch at the Last Corner Restaurant in Reading. While Harry was brought up Baptist, he raised his children Catholic, attended Mass and had plans to officially join the Catholic Church. Although Harry was known for being a man of few words, he always had a warm smile and was friendly to everyone he met.

A funeral Mass for Harold will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 at Christ The King Parish (St. Agnes Church, 186 Woburn St. in Reading). Calling hours will be held on Friday, May 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow St., North Reading. Interment will follow the funeral Mass at Wood End Cemetery in Reading.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Harold’s name to the charity of your choice. To leave an online message of condolence, please visit