Hale was born in New Sharon, Maine, on 1 December 1890. His parents, Fred Hale I and Nettie Hale, both lived to be 91. In 1910, he married Flora Mooers and later in the same year, they had their first child. Hale spent his career as a railroad postal worker and a beekeeper.
In 1979, after 69 years of marriage, his wife died, leaving Hale to live independently for another 25 years.
When Hale was 95, he visited his grandson in Japan. On their return trip, he stopped at Hawaii, where he surfed for the first time in his life. At 100, he visited Europe with his eldest son Norman and his daughter-in-law to visit the locations of his son’s military service during World War II. Until the age of 103, he shoveled the snow off of his own roof, and he drove a car until the age of 108.
According to his son, Fred Hale III, he gave up driving because he found slow drivers annoying, and not due to his age.
At 109, Hale left Maine for Liverpool, New York to stay with his son Fred. He later relocated to nearby Baldwinsville. After cataract surgeries at ages 109 and 110, he still had an unusually good vision for a supercentenarian and continued to play cards until his death. Shortly before his death, Hale and his son moved to Jamesville, New York, where he received media attention for being the world’s oldest Boston Red Sox fan when the team won the 2004 World Series, its first World Series since 1918.
Hale credited his longevity and lack of arthritis to eating bee pollen and honey every day, along with the occasional nip of whiskey.
Twelve days before his 114th birthday, on 19 November 2004, Hale died in a nursing home in Syracuse, New York from complications of pneumonia. He was buried in Farmington, Maine. Hale outlived his son Robert, who died in 1918 during the influenza epidemic. He also outlived his daughters Muriel and Carrie. His son Norman died one month after Fred on 30 December 2004, at the age of 84; he was survived by his son Fred, who died on 23 January 2019 at the age of 97. At the time of his death, Hale had nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-grandchildren.