To those who died in 2017, we’ll remember your stories

  • First-term Democratic state Senator Scott McGilvray died March 17. He was 51 years old.

  • J. Herbert “Herbie” Quinn stands in front of Concord City Hall, where he served as mayor for 20 months beginning in 1965. He died Thursday at the age of 86. Monitor file

  • Concord city manager Jim Smith applauds with others at City Hall after William Veroneau in named the city’s mayor in January 1992. DAN HABIB / Monitor file

  • Head Coach Dave Huckins of Merrimack Valley during a game agains Pembroke on Dec. 15, 2015. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Sabrina Marie Galusha. courtesy photo

  • Stephen Baker

Monitor staff
Published: 12/30/2017 11:23:03 PM

Some lived long lives, others were taken far too soon.

But each of the people on this list had one thing in common: When we heard the sad news, we wanted to know more.

Scott McGilvray

McGilvray, who died on March 17 from an undisclosed illness at age 51, was born to help people.

Where do you begin? McGilvray was a first-term Democratic senator, representing Bow and Dunbarton, along with parts of Manchester, Candia and Hooksett.

He was president of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.

He taught social studies at Manchester Memorial High School for more than 20 years and was also the school’s head football coach.

And there, on that field, connected with that team 25 years ago, is where the Concord High graduate made perhaps his biggest contribution through a gesture that, for the most part, went unnoticed.

It was then that Lonnie McCaffrey’s father showed up to practice drunk, and it was then that the coach took his player aside and offered help.

The coach opened his spare bedroom to his player, and the player later became a prosecutor with the Raymond Police Department. Stories like that one surfaced, again and again, the day after McGilvray died in a Boston hospital.

“I would definitely, definitely not be in this position without him,” McCaffrey said. “So I’m forever grateful.”

Herbert Quinn

By time Quinn had died on July 6, his impact in Concord had long been forgotten.

He had moved to Florida 25 year earlier, and his two-year run as Concord’s mayor had come during the LBJ Administration.

When Quinn passed at age 86, however, those old enough to remember the feisty Irishman with rugged good looks rewound their minds, to a turbulent era and a city leader who fit right in.

Quinn, a product of foster families and the city’s first Irish Catholic mayor, came into office looking for accountability and open government, not to mention a good fight with anyone who saw things differently than he did.

After riding a wave of popularity that old friend Tom Hardiman said was based on the freshness Donald Trump had brought to the White House, Quinn fought for change, including opening board of aldermen finance meetings to the public.

The old guard, which included the Monitor’s then-editorial writer Jim Langley, told the newbie mayor to mind his own business, which didn’t go over well with Quinn.

In retaliation, Quinn quietly met a Concord police officer to create a sting operation, hoping to nail the opinionated, sharp-tongued Langley on a DWI charge as he left his favorite watering hole, the Gold Brick Lounge.

Langley, though, was not at the bar that night, and Quinn later tried to cover his tracks. He was impeached and thrown out of office, the first and only time that’s happened to Concord’s mayor.

“People will say Herbie was corrupt, but he was in a corrupt environment,” said Nancy Stewart, whose father, Frank Sullivan, was friends with Quinn. “Was he perfect? Who knows? He never smoked or drank, he had beautiful eyes, and he was handsome as could be. He was elected because this was a corrupt city.”

Bill Veroneau

In contrast to Quinn, there was Mayor Veroneau, who died on Nov. 4 at the age of 87, three years after suffering a stroke.

Nicknamed Mr. Penacook because of his family and business roots there, the five-term mayor combined measured diplomacy with a trailblazing social side that saw him raise seven children as a divorced single dad, at a time when that role was unheard of.

Under Veroneau’s leadership through the 1990s, Concord maintained a zero percent municipal tax increase, a reflection of his fiscal conservatism.

Then there was the other side of Veroneau, the one about being way ahead of his time after he secured custody of his six daughters and one son from his ex-wife, who died in 1984 in her late 40s.

Veroneau, who served in the Air Force for eight years, logged more than 2,400 hours of flying time and was a math genius, utilized his straight-laced discipline with his sharp wit to create a home environment perfectly suited for success and growth.

“He was socially moderate to liberal,” Geraldine Veroneau, Bill’s oldest daughter, said after a ceremony honoring her father. “He raised six girls to be independent women. He was a women’s libber way before it became popular.”

Dave Huckins

Huckins, a legendary figure in the Penacook region, masterfully combined a booming laugh with a no-nonsense approach to life, both of which had an impact on everyone he touched before cancer took his life on Sept. 17 at age 46.

Huckins was a leader in business, the founder and owner of a propane and oil company. He was a leader as a basketball coach, guiding the Merrimack Valley High School girls’ basketball team to its first state championship in 2014.

And he was a leader as a star player in the late 1980s, helping MV win its first basketball title in school history his senior season.

And while a sweet jump shot and an endless fuel tank helped push the team to the top of the standings, it was Huckins’s unselfish nature that stood out and made him a special player.

The senior forward had sprained his ankle – an injury that hounded Huckins throughtout his high school career – during MV’s semifinal win.

And with Huckins on the bench during the title game, ConVal held an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter. That’s when Huckins had had enough.

He rose from his spot on the bench and began waving one of his crutches in the air, whipping the school’s dejected fans into a frenzy and sparking a 57-54 victory.

“I remember when I first heard the news (about Huckins’s death), said Heather Cummings, a longtime friend and the team manager back in the day. “I didn’t think of the days of struggle. I pictured his face when we won the title and he was on crutches and he could not play that night. He stood up on the bench and lifted his crutches and rallied the crowd, and we knew without Dave and his spirit that night, we would not have won that game.”

Stephen Baker

Epsom attorney Baker, a champion for senior citizens’ rights, died in a rock-climbing accident in September at the age of 38.

Baker and four of his six sibling were hiking in Utah’s Zion National Park when he fell about 80 feet during a 300-foot descent, according to two media reports that cited Alan Aldredge, the Kane Country sheriff chief deputy.

Working under the radar for years, Baker’s death brought to light the story of a man, born and raised in Utah, who became a devout member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and who dedicated his professional life to helping the elderly after experiencing the death of his grandmother.

“I had the misfortune of watching my grandmother suffer through Alzheimer’s Disease which eventually took her life,” Baker wrote on his law website. “Through that experience, I developed a passion for estate planning, elder law, guardianships and Medicaid planning. I have come to realize that through some simple planning, a lot of heartache can be avoided.”

Kelly Nericcio, whose son attended Cub Scouts with the older of Baker’s two boys, said Baker and his wife were forever helping others in need.

“He was always giving to others,” Nericcio said. “He served in the National Guard, and if you needed something, you could call them. They were those kinds of people. If you had an emergency, you knew you could count on them.”

Sabrina Galusha, Chris Foley

The stabbing death of 23-year-old Concord High School graduate Galusha and the death of the 39-year-old Foley, the Penacook Elementary School principal, from cancer spread sadness throughout the region.

Galusha was allegedly killed by Daswan Jette during a pot sale outside the Penacook Place Apartments on May 30. Jette has been charged with second-degree murder.

A week after Foley’s third child was born in August, word came that Foley’s cancer had spread and treatment would no longer be effective.

He died on Sept. 24.

Mary Louise Hancock, Mary Hill

In an odd coincidence, two women named Mary, both of whom lived in Concord, befriended Bill and Hillary Clinton and were seen as colorful and significant figures among the state’s Democrats, died in 2017.

Hancock, who opened doors for women in public service and became an influential player on the state’s liberal landscape, died on Dec. 4 at the age of 97.

Hancock was the first Democrat and first woman from Concord elected to the state house, and she was the first female state planning director in the country.

Her Concord home became part of the campaign trail for Democratic presidential candidates. Near the end, Vice President Al Gore, told about her failing health, called Hancock, the day before she died.

We also lost Hill one month earlier, on Nov. 11, at the age of 80 following a seizure at a local nursing home, where she lived the last three years of her life.

Hill worked the cash register at Mamos Market, turning it, like Hancock’s house, into a regular campaign stop.

At her memorial service at Bennett Funeral Home, Hill’s great-nephew, Travis Ingram, showed guests a thick photo album stuffed with letters and invitations from the Clintons.

“I want to thank you for your good wishes following my recent surgery,” read one letter. “It was very thoughtful of you to write.”

The letter was from Bill Clinton in 2005, five years after the 42nd president had left office.

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