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After death in a car crash, Andover storyteller remembered for his many tales

  • Peter Brodeur of Andover, renowned as a storyteller in the Granite State, died in a single-vehicle crash Sunday, May 20, 2018. “He just loved telling stories,” said his sister, Judith Brodeur. Courtesy



Monitor staff
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Even as a young child, Peter Brodeur was known for his yarns.

“From his earliest days as a child in grade school, he would write these incredibly far-out stories. He just loved telling stories,” said his sister, Judith Brodeur.

Peter Brodeur, a well-known figure in the New Hampshire storytelling community, was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Alexandria on Sunday afternoon. Police said they do not believe alcohol or speed was a factor.

Judith Brodeur said the family was still waiting for the autopsy results but believed a medical event had probably triggered the car crash. He was 58, she said, and not 60, as reported by police.

Brodeur, who resided in Andover, grew up with his parents and four siblings in Penacook and lived in New Hampshire all his life.

The family was of French Canadian ancestry and had lived in Massachusetts before moving to Penacook in the 1950s, Judith Brodeur said. The baby of the family, he was the only one born in the Granite State.

“He would never let us forget that he was the only real New Hampshirite in the family,” she recalled.

Brodeur worked at the Presidential Oaks retirement home and had an eclectic array of hobbies. He collected Native American baskets, was an amateur nature photographer and a history buff.

He began telling stories in a formal way during his time at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, where he worked as a tour guide in the 1990s. It’s where members of the Central New Hampshire Storytelling Guild say they met him and eventually recruited him to their ranks.

“He got deeply involved in the storytelling world, and we became fast friends,” said Lauretta Phillips, a professional storyteller and founder of the New Hampshire Storytelling Alliance.

Brodeur specialized in Native American tales – especially those featuring animals – and was nicknamed “Bearded Turtle.” He retold common folk tales but also sought out Native tellers for their stories.

“There are a number of stories that are just theirs, and they give permission to people to tell them or not,” Phillips said.

Friends remembered him as a gentle, kind, often quiet, unassuming man. But on stage, Brodeur had a strong presence and clear voice.

“He was in his element when we would get in front of an audience,” said Don Brown, the owner of the Corner House Inn in Sandwich, which holds regular storytelling events.

Brodeur was happy not to be the center of attention while off stage, instead listening to others – and that’s precisely why he was so good at what he did, Phillips said.

“Being a good listener helps you become a good storyteller. You hear the meanings behind the words. You hear the nuances in the story itself. You can get the meaning from it if you’re a good listener. It helps you tell the story from a different perspective,” she said.

Storytelling Alliance members will remember Brodeur by recounting his favorite tales from 7 to 9 p.m. May 29 at the Franklin Studio.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct date of a storytelling event in Brodeur’s honor at the Franklin Studio.