Among deaths in 2013, some left their legacy, while others left too soon

New Hampshire Union Leader
December 28. 2013 10:29PM

Executive Councilor Ray Burton passed away in November. (FILE)

A 9-year-old boy shot by his father, a young Vermont couple expecting their first child and a beloved North Country political institution known for his constituent service were among those who died in New Hampshire in 2013.

The Granite State lost servicemen and dedicated public servants and men who used their pen to influence or entertain.

Some left their mark decades ago. Others too young were cut down at the hand of others.

In a case that put a focus on court-supervised visits involving children, a Manchester father, Menahem "Muni" Savyon, 54, fatally shot his 9-year-old son, Joshua, of Amherst, before killing himself during such a visit at the Manchester YWCA in August.

This month, a driver allegedly attempting to commit suicide crashed his truck into another vehicle on Interstate 89 in Lebanon, killing a Vermont couple and their unborn child, authorities said. Robert Dellinger, 53, of Sunapee faces two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Amanda Murphy, 24, who was eight months pregnant, and her fiance, Jason Timmons, 29.

In political circles, a North Country legend, Executive Councilor Raymond Burton, 74, died in November after a battle with kidney cancer. For more than 30 years, the Bath Republican showed up at events big and small.

"For the people Ray represented, he was more than an executive councilor or county commissioner," Gov. Maggie Hassan said. "He was a member of the family. If a challenge or problem ever arose, you could call Ray Burton, and he would do everything in his power to help."

In the field of medicine, Dr. C. Everett Koop, 96, of Hanover served as the nation's 13th U.S. surgeon general from 1981 until 1989. The 1937 Dartmouth grad was credited with trying to create a "smoke-free nation" and increasing the awareness about the dangers of smoking and health problems caused by secondhand smoke.

The state also lost two men who sometimes kept newspaper readers laughing or politicians crying.

Former Union Leader sports columnist Joe Sullivan, 69, of Manchester shared his wit and grace in his sports column, dubbed "Column as I See 'Em."

As editorial page director and chief editorial writer of the state's largest newspaper until his retirement in 1995, Jim Finnegan, 82, of Merrimack also called them as he saw them, questioning the role of government and giving nicknames to politicians to match their political bent.

"He was the punch behind the Union Leader," recalled former Congressman and state Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas, a close friend of Finnegan.

Manchester and Keene lost former political fathers.

John Mongan, 88, of Manchester, whose 38-vote victory margin in 1961 represented the closest election ever for Manchester's mayor, served two terms, from 1962 to 1964 and 1968 to 1970. The Republican was credited with establishing the Brown Avenue Industrial Park, which was renamed in his honor in 2011.

Keene lost its former mayor, Michael E.J. Blastos, 80, who served from 2000 to 2007, one of the longest tenures in city history. The Keene resident previously was a city councilor and also owned Mr. Pizza on Main Street and the Pub Restaurant and Catering on Winchester Street.

Two drug overdoses three days apart in August claimed the lives of two college students with Granite State connections and shined a spotlight on a form of ecstasy, dubbed "Molly." Plymouth State University sophomore Brittany Flannigan, 19, of Derry, died from an overdose at a Boston club, and University of New Hampshire junior Olivia Rotondo, 20, of North Providence, R.I., died at a New York concert.

In July, an alleged drunken driver crashed into the car of a honeymooning Minnesota couple in Rollinsford, killing the bride and seriously injuring her husband of nine days.

Matthew Tsopas, 44, formerly of Somersworth, faces more than a half-dozen charges, including manslaughter, for his alleged involvement in a series of alcohol-related crashes, including one that killed Leah Preiss. Her husband, Brian, suffered serious injuries.

And in September, a vehicle fatally struck two Massachusetts women during the annual Seacoast Century Ride bicycle ride in Seabrook. Killed were Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, Mass., and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, Mass.

Other deaths included:

. Harold Burns, 86, of Whitefield, who served as speaker of the House in Concord from 1991 to 1996. The state named a bridge over the Johns River on Route 3 and Route 116 in Whitefield as the Burns Bridge, recognizing several generations of the Burns family for their civic and military contributions.

. Clem Lemire, 90, of Manchester, who was Manchester's longest-serving parks director. During his tenure from 1966 to 1995, Lemire spearheaded the creation of the McIntyre Ski Area and the JFK Memorial Coliseum rink as well as many fields around the city. The athletic complex at Memorial High School bears his name. . Walter Butts, 68, who served as the state's poet laureate from 1999 to 2004. He was praised for his work in expanding poetry to a wider audience.

. Harold Perkins, 77, who spent 18 years as a superior court judge after three years as a Concord District Court judge. He was remembered as a mentor to young judges and lawyers.

. Barbara "Bobbi" Arnold, 89, of Manchester, a former state representative who hosted popular summer barbecues with potential White House hopefuls as guests.

. Lucille Lagasse, 90, of Goffstown, who was campaign manager for many governors, congressmen and senators. She chaired President Ronald Reagan's successful New Hampshire elections. She was co-founder of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society and served on the board of the New Hampshire Union Leader under Publisher William Loeb.

. Saghir "Saggy" Tahir, 68, of Manchester, whose obituary noted he was "one of the first Muslim-Americans ever elected to legislative office in the United States." He represented Manchester's Ward 2 from 2000 to 2010.

. Walter Stiles, 90, of Manchester, whose commitment to community included serving as the fundraising coordinator for the restoration of Manchester City Hall, where Room 203 was named the Walter A. Stiles Conference Room.

. Stan Gorski, 71, of Manchester, who taught in the English department at Trinity High School for 51 years, formerly known as Bishop Bradley High School. He also was Trinity High's varsity basketball, track, tennis and cheerleading coach in later years and rose to become the school's athletic director.

. Staff Sgt. Laim J. Nevins, 32, a Colorado Army National Guard soldier who grew up in Bennington, was killed by enemy insurgents during a military training exercise in Afghanistan.

. U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler Pimpis, 22, a 2009 Londonderry High School graduate stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, who died in a motorcycle crash in Killeen, Texas. He quarterbacked the Londonderry football team and played on the school's varsity lacrosse team.

. U.S. Army Ranger 1st Lt. Paul DeMeo, 23, of Derry, a 2007 Pinkerton Academy graduate who died while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

. Edmund Johnson Jr., 84, of Rye Beach, who received a commendation from President George W. Bush in the Oval Office for his leadership role in founding the Pease Greeters. He served a tour of duty in Korea with the Marine Corps as an infantry captain and earned a Silver Star.

. Edward "Eddie" Bonneville, 83, of Palm City, Fla., who put his business ambitions to work at age 15 when he owned and operated two shoeshine parlors on Manchester's Elm Street. He and his father started selling used cars, and the family business flourished into Bonneville & Son, with two locations on Hooksett Road in Manchester.

. May Gruber, who headed Pandora Industries at a time when few women led companies. She ran Pandora for nearly 20 years until she sold it in 1983. Gruber and her second husband, Sam, founded the Manchester Community Music School and donated items to the Currier Museum. The Goffstown resident died two days short of her 101st birthday.

. David Stahl, 86, of Manchester, who was a founder of The Derryfield School and instrumental in the renovation of the Palace Theatre. His philanthropy extended into the arts, music and education.

. Fred Kfoury Jr., 70, of Manchester, who was president and chief executive officer of the Central Paper Products Co. Inc. in Manchester. The University of New Hampshire graduate and his brother, Richard, pledged in 2007 to give 2 percent of the company's total sales to UNH, hoping other companies would follow. In 1998, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year.

. John Bachman, 71, of Amherst, who was his town's fire chief from 1991 to 1994 and who had spent 18 years with the department. A vehicle struck Bachman while he was retrieving his mail two days before Christmas. The alleged driver was checking his email on his cellphone when he struck Bachman, authorities said. Travis Hobbs, 20, of Mont Vernon is charged with negligent homicide.

. Myrtle McIntyre, 95, of Potomac Falls, Va., who was the widow of U.S. Sen. Tom McIntyre of New Hampshire and was a strong advocate for the Democratic Party. She served as a Democratic National Committee member from 1952 to 1956. Her husband served in the U.S. Senate from 1962 to 1978 and died in 1992.

. Frederic Upton, 94, of Concord, who helped protect Franconia Notch by convincing the federal government that blasting to make room for a mandatory four-lane interstate could cause the Old Man of the Mountain to fall.

. Dorothy Jenis, 92, of Manchester, who was a state and national advocate for education reform. She attended the ceremony where President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating the U.S. Department of Education.

. Nils Larson Jr., 79, formerly of Bridgewater, who while chairman of the Newfound School Board waged a successful campaign to build a new high school in Bristol. He served in the state Legislature and was an adviser on education to then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

This article was based on reporting by Union Leader reporters and correspondents throughout the year.

BusinessEducationDeaths in the newsNH PeopleHistoryPoliticsTop Section Stories

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required