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Saturday, December 29, 2012

A look back at those we lost

Dean Shalhoup

Well, it looks like the Mayans missed – this time, anyway. What is true, though, is that 2012 is about to come to an end. But fortunately, 2013 is right there waiting for us.

Which all comes down to the fact it’s time again to pause, take a deep breath and spend a little while remembering those close to us whom we lost during 2012. It’s in that spirit I ask you, as you toast the memory of your loved ones, to include in your thoughts the following notable personalities who also passed this year. ...

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Well, it looks like the Mayans missed – this time, anyway. What is true, though, is that 2012 is about to come to an end. But fortunately, 2013 is right there waiting for us.

Which all comes down to the fact it’s time again to pause, take a deep breath and spend a little while remembering those close to us whom we lost during 2012. It’s in that spirit I ask you, as you toast the memory of your loved ones, to include in your thoughts the following notable personalities who also passed this year.

First, we remember a man who passed in the waning days of 2011 but didn’t make last year’s column: William E. Conway, engineer, Nashua Corp. president, founder of Conway Management, philanthropist, quality control expert and author who passed Dec. 29 at age 85.

On to 2012:


Still they take too many of us. Frank “Frankie” J. Hooker Jr. died on Jan. 27 of injuries sustained in a car crash on East Dunstable Road. Avid swimmer June F. Byrne died Feb. 19 after a long struggle with injuries from an accident. She was 83.

A tragic firearms accident on April 13 claimed the life of 9-year-old Maximos Hebert of Hollis. DJ and music promoter Sean J. Hooser of Merrimack died May 4 in a motor vehicle accident in Orlando. A week later, Stewart Triehy, 23, of Pepperell, was killed when his motorcycle crashed on the Everett Turnpike in Nashua.

Retired Nashua dentist Robert Levesque was struck by a car and killed May 25 near his Henderson, Nevada home. A motorcycle crash claimed 23-year-old masters student Michael B. Lo Verme of Merrimack June 15.

Fisherman and friend to all Jay Robert Coocen drowned in Sandy Pond on July 7. A car crash in Heflen, Ala., took the life of former Wilton man Timothy (TJ) Brown Jr., 25, on July 8.

A boating accident at Northwood Lake claimed 28-year-old Brendan W. Yerry, 28, an Alvirne High graduate and Hudson resident. Anne M. Gagnon, former co-owner of Hudson Furniture and Gagnon’s Furniture in Hudson, died Aug. 5 from injuries sustained in an July 26 crash in Fairfield, Maine.

Lorinda White, 51, died in a tragic accident in Milford Aug. 10. Former Mont Vernon selectman and car enthusiast Peter L. Savage was killed in a crash on his 60th birthday.

Hunter and fisherman Robert G. Tiedemann, 48, of Milford died in an Aug. 13 crash in Amherst. Fifty-six-year-old dentist Dr. Nayeli Velez-McCaskey, once named “best pediatric doctor in New England,” died Aug. 14 in a tragic accident in Boston.

A Connecticut motorcycle crash on Aug. 20 claimed Merrimack resident and businessman Dereck D. Chaput. Days later a workplace accident in Berwick, Maine, took the life of Merrimack resident Thomas A. Palermo, 55.

William J. Broussard IV of Hudson was 24 when he died along with a friend in an Aug. 24 pre-dawn crash in Delray Beach, Fla.

Avid hunter and outdoorsman Ronald W. Flora of Hudson died in a motorcycle v. car accident in Merrimack on Aug. 31. Anthony Michael Ciccone of Pepperell, a 2010 Bishop Guertin graduate, was just 20 when he died in a car crash Sept. 2.

A two-car crash in Milford claimed the life of 49-year-old Merrimack man Erich F. Eger on Sept. 4. The same day in Francestown, Bambi Lynn (Langendoen) Bodnar died of injuries sustained when her car left the road and crashed. The Nashua native was 59.

An especially tragic accident in Westminster, Mass., claimed the life of former local resident Elisabeth M. “Betsy” Estrada-Turner, 27, and her unborn baby on Dec. 12.

A firearms accident Dec. 15 in Manchester ended the life of former Nashua resident Ismael Trinidad “Izzy” Chavira, 19. A fast-moving New Ipswich house fire Dec. 23 had a tragic outcome, taking the lives of 23-month-old Gregory Paul Prince Jr. and his uncle, Joshua Prince, 26.

Made Their Mark

Plenty do. Here are some we lost.

Theresa Drabinowicz, former ward selectman, state representative, Democratic party activist, veterans advocate and holder of a black belt in Kenpo Karate and En Te Ryu-Jiu-JitSu, was 88 when she died Jan. 3.

Lifelong nurse, World War II Red Cross volunteer and avid volunteer Beatrice Cadwell died Jan. 4 at her Nashua home eight months shy of her 100th birthday.

Career educator Charles R. Cote, known to baby boomers as the firm but kind assistant principal at the old Spring Street Junior High, was 86 when he died Jan. 12 at his Rye home. Richard E. Dumont, Merrimack police officer, educator, youth sports coach and longtime selectman, died on Feb. 4 at age 69.

Erik L. Brown, better known as “Eddie Bones,” Nashua hip-hop musician and “neighborhood politician” who counseled others like himself with spinal cord injuries, passed the same day at 36.

Former Rivier University vice president, prolific educator and well-known businessman Ronald J. Kraus Sr. was 73 when he died July 11.

Retired Air Force Lt. James E. Diggins, a former Nashuan who served 42 years and was highly decorated with more than 10 medals, died June 30.

Howard Dilworth Jr., a 27-year firefighter and one of Hudson’s most civic-minded citizens, was 58 when he died Aug. 19.

Hall-of-fame soccer star Manfred “Bunzi” Beyer, who helped found Nashua youth soccer and coached Nashua High girls teams for nearly 20 years, died Sept. 4 at 73.

Dorothy “Dot” Nice, known as “Nashua’s 16th alderman” for her dedication to city affairs, was 89 when she died Oct. 17.

Max Golden, Nashua resident who was born in poverty in czarist Russia and rose to the post of general counsel under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, died Oct. 15 at 99. Nashua’s Dawna Marie Ethier, sports enthusiast who transformed Little League baseball by becoming the nation’s first girl player in 1973 when she was 12, died June 6 at age 51.

Lifelong educator Phyllis R. Bryant, longtime principal at Nashua’s Birch Hill Elementary School, was 90 when she died July 29. U.S. Army Spc. Jared Aaron Davison, a watercraft engineer, was only 24 when he died at Fort Eustis, Va., Sept. 4.

Thomas C. “Tommy” Dionne, a 2009 Nashua High South graduate and one of Nashua PLUS Company’s most popular clients, died Sept. 5 at home. Former airline pilot and longtime Milford educator Robert Foster was 70 when he died unexpectedly Sept. 23 while hiking Pack Monadnock.

Award-winning newspaper reporter, respected journalist, Sanders Associates employee and master horseman Joseph Patrick Heaney of Mont Vernon died Nov. 9 at age 82. And former two-term U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, Nashua native, longtime Hollis resident and anti-deficit spending crusader always willing to reach more than halfway across the political aisle, was 82 when he passed Nov. 19.

We knew them well

Some whose deaths made us pause to reflect.

Kierra Raelynn Walker, known as “KiKi,” was an artistic 6th-grader in Merrimack who loved singing and dancing. Her premature death at age 11 on Jan. 8 saddened many hearts. Elinor Williams Hooker, teacher, community and civil rights activist, died Jan. 27 at age 78.

Reginald N. “Reggie” Francoeur, bakery executive, World War II flying ace and Nashua’s famous “lawn guy,” was 87 when he died Jan. 30. Well-known Hudson historian, Mason, community advocate and poultry farm owner Robert A. Jasper was 90 when he died Feb. 4.

Paul Toli Daukas, “golden-era” Nashua High football star, college standout and lifelong businessman, died Feb. 13 at 86. Leon “Blackie” Dionne of Merrimack, prolific baseball and softball umpire, state champion bowler and career postman, was 78 when he died Feb. 28.

Francis G. “Frank” Holland, a 40-year Nashua attorney known for treating clients with dignity and respect and handling groundbreaking cases, died unexpectedly April 7.

Olga Ann Adamo, who, with husband Bruno, put 1960’s Amherst on the map with their iconic Adamo’s restaurant and pizzeria, died at 87 on April 20. Generations of area flea-market addicts were saddened with the April 23 death of Shirley L. Frazier, 83, proprietor of Shirley’s Flea Market, one of several along Route 122 in Hollis.

Well-known corner-store owner, successful businessman and dedicated Nashua Lodge of Elks member Donald R. Vantine died April 25 at age 86. And landscaper extraordinaire Billy Dutton, who kept the Nashua Country Club golf course in impeccable shape for decades, died at 73 on April 26.

The Souhegan Valley lost a favorite June 6 with the death of Ruth Johnston, 89, whom friends say “led a pretty extraordinary life.”

Four days later, Amherst resident, U.S. Marine and retired state trooper Edward J. Trentini lost a brief battle with lung cancer; he was 81.

Army radar specialist and well-known Nashua insurance executive Walter C. Cogswell, who headed the Slawsby Agency for decades, died June 27 at 93. Nashua Corporation executive E. Webster Whitney Jr. was also 93 when he died July 24; the Hunt Community’s Whitney Pavilion honors his memory.

Retired Nashua police Lt. James E. Brackett, 63, of Merrimack, died July 27 in Mont Vernon. Well-known Hollis veterinarian Robert F. Wignall was 92 when he died Aug. 10.

Alvin Byron Corzilius, a well-known Nashua architect, was 79 when he died Aug. 11. Former state representative Leon C. Calawa Jr. of Litchfield, who friends called “Jimmy,” passed Aug. 12.

Jennifer L. Norton, whose battle with cancer and dedication to her job at Public Works department inspired thousands, was 40 when she died Aug. 27. The Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter mourned the loss of Melissa A. Loukides, its kitchen manager and a lifelong Nashuan, on Oct. 3. She was 50.

Bruce R. Spaulding, whose baritone voice and pleasant manner welcomed generations of patrons to his family’s Howard Johnson restaurants, was 78 when he died Oct. 12. Republican party activist Lucille Cudhea, 86, daughter of well-known Nashua auto pioneers Guy and Genice Lintott who worked on countless local, state and presidential campaigns, passed Oct. 19.

Gilbert E. Marshall, the man behind Milford’s “Gil’s Yamaha” and “Gil’s Cycle Shop,” the state’s first Yamaha motorcycle dealership, died Nov. 25 at 81. Well-known Hudson farmer Harold D. Smith was 87 when he died on Nov. 30.

Pearl Harbor survivor and lifelong veterans advocate William R. Lefabvre Sr. died at 92 on Oct. 14. Well-known Wilton resident Rene J. Houle, the town’s fire chief for many years, died Dec. 16 at age 74.

Hollis resident Bertrand H. Sommer, a Merchant Marine who went on to executive posts at several Nashua auto dealerships and helped the former N.H. Vocational-Technical College establish an automobile course, died Dec. 23 at 87.


A century of life -- definitely a milestone worth celebrating. Listed from “youngest” to eldest are centenarians who died this year.

Marjorie Whitney Lodding, librarian and horticulturist with familial ties to Nashua, was 100 yeas and 43 days old when she died Jan. 18. Bertha Landry of Nashua died July 14 at 100 years and 8 months of age.

Donald G. White, “the model for aging with grace and dignity,” those who knew him said, died March 9 at 101 years and 6 days old. And Marie Beatrice Lapierre, known as Bea, a 55 year resident of 33 Clement St., was 101 years and four months old when she died Sept. 18. Her husband Wilfred also lived to 101.

Elvira Lorentzen, longtime Hollis resident, Eastern Star member and avid traveler, was 102 years and 248 days old when she died Feb. 5. Rosemary H. Todd, also of Hollis, who became Cornell University’s first alumnus to celebrate an 80th reunion, was 24 days older than Elvira when she died Feb. 18.

Alice M. Svenson, longtime Nashua resident who, with her husband Eric, was a career Salvation Army officer, was 103 years and 3 months old when she passed Jan. 8.

And this year’s eldest centenarian is a household name in the region, especially in Hollis: Hilda (Lull) Hildreth, member of the large farming family and one of five students to graduate with the Hollis High School class of 1924 who became town clerk and an early telephone operator, died May 24 at a remarkable 104 years and 9 months of age.

Happy New Year to all.

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears Saturdays in The Telegraph. He can be reached at 594-6443 or Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).