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Editorial: Lives worth remembering as 2013 draws to a close

Nelson Mandela died in 2013. So did Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello and Abigail Van Buren, aka Dear Abby. In New Hampshire, Executive Councilor Ray Burton died in 2013, as did former surgeon general C. Everett Koop and Doug Theuner, the former Episcopal bishop. But those were just the names that made the headlines. In Concord and the towns around, the deaths of 2013 included many, many friends and neighbors who made our community hum. Consider:

We lost people who helped keep us safe. Francis LaClair was a deputy chief in the Concord Fire Department. John A. Adams was a bailiff for the state court system. Buzz Call was the Sutton building inspector.

We lost people who taught us the basics. Barbara Batten, who lived at Havenwood-Heritage Heights, taught Sunday school in the United Methodist Church. Dorothy Donogan taught fourth grade in Franklin. Douglas Sloane Maynard coached the Hopkinton High School boys’ lacrosse team.

We lost people famous for their longevity. William C. Bayley, who died at 96, was honored in 2010 for being Tilton’s oldest living resident.

We lost people who set other records, too. Shirley Brown of Chichester was the first woman appointed and then elected as town clerk in Chichester. Holly Ann Health participated in the first Special Olympics in 1970 at age 13. John W. Lynch of Hill designed, built and operated one of the first mechanized one-man sawmills. Loretta Dean of New London was named New Hampshire Cheerleader of the Year in 1956.

Les Menzies, who lived to 100, was a member of the state champion Concord High cross country team in 1930 and 1931; he was also an undefeated Golden Glove and Diamond Belt champion in the light-heavyweight division. In 1937 he became the first trooper to enlist in the newly formed Department of State Police. And in 1940, he was the first recipient of the state’s Medal of Valor after a shootout with a murderer in Swanzey.

We lost people who were devoted to public service. Alice Raynor Baldwin Chandler was overseer of the poor in Wilmot for 30 years. John Bachelder Chamberlin was once an Andover selectman. Mary Jane Colton worked in the constituent services department for U.S. Sens. Gordon Humprey and Bob Smith. Herbert (Pete) Hansen had been a Hillsboro selectman and state representative.

We lost people who gave us a place to shop and do our chores. Gloria Calley owned The Captain’s Pleasure on Main Street in Concord. Rudy Chapley owned Chapley’s Shoe Store in Franklin. Ralph Esburnett ran Esburnett’s Garage in Pittsfield for 63 years. Robert Frost owned Fox Ace Hardware in Penacook for the past 14 years. Carol Gouin owned and operated the Bow Beauty Shop for more than 40 years; Harriet Lucia ran Harriet’s Beauty Shop on Fisherville Road for more than 50. Jamie VanKeuren was both a chimney sweep and the operator of a roller rink.

We lost people who had remarkable experiences, both good and bad. When Bill Buntrock of Hopkinton was in the Army, he was part of the unit that guarded Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, surrounding the presidential airplane after it landed at Fort McNair. Larry Durocher Jr. was a pilot for Robert F. Kennedy during the early days of his presidential bid.

Elize Noordsij spent nearly four years in a Japanese-run interment camp during World War II. Hazel Cattabriga, who was born in Britain, survived the Blitz and bombing of London during World War II.

We lost people with terrific talents. Marc Theroux of Boscawen made great maple syrup. Rita Patricia Abbott of New London was a virtuoso knitter. Helen Condict could speak German, Latin, French and Spanish; in retirement she started learning Russian.

We lost people who brought music and art into our lives. Frank Brissette of Allenstown played with the Epsom Town Band and was a choir member and percussionist for St. John the Baptist Church.

We lost people who looked out for the most vulnerable among us. Marie Cross of Bow was a foster parent for 14 years for disabled children. Linda Flynn, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, spent much of her career at New Hampshire Hospital in Concord. Paul Foley of Warner hosted many Fresh Air Fund children over 30 years. David Hubbard was director of the Hillsboro Food Pantry for 15 years.

Nearly none of them – nor the hundreds of others who graced the Monitor’s obituary columns in 2013 – were big names or VIPs. They won’t make the annual roundups of important deaths in magazines or on television. But our communities are a little poorer without their presence. As we look ahead to 2014, their lives, too, are worth remembering.

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