If there's one undeniable fact about Clem Lemire, it’s this: He had many friends who truly loved him.
In 1995, when Lemire stepped down superintendent of Manchester’s Parks and Recreation superintendent, a retirement banquet was held in his honor. The event may have set a record as the longest banquet in city history, with the last speaker to say a “few” words standing at the podium a little after 2 a.m., more than eight hours after the start.
“I was there, and I can tell you people spoke from the heart that evening,” said Joe Dutile, one of Lemire’s closest friends. “There were many stories told that night and lots of laughter, but deep down you could sense a genuine love for Clem.”
Dutile called Lemire “the best superintendent this city ever had, and he loved his job. I can’t tell you how many times I remember seeing Clem work with the kids on summer projects. Whether it was planting shrubs, laying sod or digging trenches, Clem would take his jacket off and work alongside the kids. His (late) wife (Lillian) wouldn’t be too happy when he came home with mud and dirt on him, but that was Clem.”
Dutile said Lemire never took shortcuts when it came to work.
“Clem came from a big family, and he came up the hard way,” said Dutile. “He understood what a hard day’s work was, and he never forgot it.”
Dutile, now retired after teaching industrial arts at Manchester Memorial High for more than 35 years, was instrumental behind the scenes in getting the school’s athletics complex named for Lemire.
“After all he did for the city, it was only fitting the city name a complex after him,” said Dutile. “I can tell you, he was thrilled when many years later the city named the football field after Bob Chabot and Hubie McDonough (Jr.) at the complex. Clem respected them a great deal.”
Chabot and McDonough coached Manchester Memorial to six state football titles including one in 1971, when the Crusaders defeated Trinity, 12-6, in the famed Snow Bowl on Thanksgiving Day at Gill Stadium.
“I don’t know for sure, but I would bet the house Clem was driving one of the snowplow trucks during halftime of that game,” said Dutile. “Clem will be surely missed, not only for what he did for the city, but how much he helped kids. He made sure the fields, the golf course, the ice rinks and ski slopes were in top condition for the kids.”
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MANCHESTER High Central varsity wrestling coach Jason Cumming, an Air Force veteran, is hoping for a strong turnout today for the Wrestling for Warriors Tournament. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. at Central, with tournament proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project and Liberty House shelter for homeless veterans.
Cumming, who also serves as director of the Manchester Police Athletic League’s Granite State Gryphons wrestling program, requests that anyone attending the tournament bring a non-perishable food item for donation.
“I’m an Air Force veteran and this is something near and dear to my heart,” said Cumming. “Wrestling is huge in the military, so the wrestlers always support the troops.”
In addition to the Gryphons, wrestlers in the tournament will represent Smitty’s Wrestling Barn of Danville, Mayo Quanchi Judo and Wrestling of West Warwick, R.I.; MetroWest United of Ashland, Mass.; the Gate City Wresting Club of Nashua; and teams from Maine.
“The top wrestlers from New England are coming to compete and support the troops,” Cumming said.
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.