Longtime Upper Valley state representative Elizabeth Crory passed away this Feb. at age 82. She was a tireless advocate for the underserved, a dedicated public servant and someone who touched the lives of many, including my own. Elizabeth and her husband, Fred, truly represented what's best about New Hampshire and public service.
In 1978, I was a junior at Dartmouth College and also a state representative from my hometown of Bedford. I had been commuting to legislative sessions in Concord in my 1960s vintage Volkswagen Beetle until it quit, leaving me without a car. Representative Elizabeth Crory, who sat in front of me in Section Two of the cavernous New Hampshire House of Representatives, generously offered me a ride. We soon became friends.
The ride from Hanover to Concord and back several times a week offered me the opportunity to learn a lot from Elizabeth, who was in the middle of a distinguished 14-year career in the legislature. One evening on the way back to Hanover, I told her I could no longer afford to attend Dartmouth and would be leaving at the end of the semester to find work, probably out of state. A few days later, she suggested I meet with her husband, Fred.
A former Marine who served during the Korean War, Fred Crory had used the GI Bill to become a civil engineer. In 1978, he was a senior manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers based in Hanover. Fred offered me what turned out literally to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Fred's unit, the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), was tasked with helping monitor oil and gas exploration activities on the North Slope of Alaska during the 1970s. Its mission was also to protect the tundra and permafrost in the drilling areas. Fred offered me a job there for the summer to relieve a couple of men. The work, he said, would be hard. I would be working with oil drillers and flying around the wilderness of Alaska on behalf of the federal government to monitor several remote oil and gas well drilling sites.
There were two stipulations to the job: First, once in Alaska, there was no coming back early-- it was too expensive to train and then get there; the second requirement was I had to graduate from Dartmouth on-time with my class the following year.
In the summer of 1978, I arrived by Twin Otter plane at Camp Inagok on the North Slope of Alaska, some 70 miles inland from Point Barrow. I lived and breathed oil exploration and helped make sure the wilderness we worked in would be left as pristine as it had been found. I also fished in deep artic pools never likely cast on before and carried a gun when leaving camp because of roaming grizzly bears.
In 1979, I also graduated with my class at Dartmouth College and that summer worked again for CRREL on the North Slope of Alaska.
Elizabeth and Fred Crory gave me the opportunity to work and stay in school. Eventually, I went onto a twenty-year career in business and also appointed Deputy Secretary of State and later Director of New Hampshire's Bureau of Securities Regulation.
Today, many of our young people are leaving New Hampshire because of the cost of higher education. An important lesson I learned when I was 22 years old is that others stepping in and providing a hand up can truly make all the difference in a young person's life. What we need today in the Granite State is for policy makers, educators, and business people to take a page from the lives of people like Elizabeth and Fred Crory and find innovative ways to create opportunities that give young people a shot at a career right here in New Hampshire. I would go as far as to say getting more young people to stay in New Hampshire to live, work, and raise families should be a top priority for our state.
Fred and Elizabeth Crory exemplified what is best about New Hampshire. They offered me--a financially struggling college student--the opportunity of a lifetime. They also left it up to me to work hard, to follow through, and the responsibility to make the best of an opportunity. Had they not given me that chance at a critical juncture of my life, I would never have been able to later give back as a public servant. Fred and Elizabeth Crory instilled in me a sense of service, commitment, and community, and I know they did so in many others as well. Ultimately, that is the best legacy any of us can leave behind.
Mark Connolly is the owner of New Castle Investment Advisors, LLC, located in Portsmouth. He is also the former Director of Securities Regulation for the state of New Hampshire and a former New Hampshire Deputy Secretary of State.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 12:35
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. I was saddened the other day to hear of the death of longtime Berlin resident and oral surgeon John Kovalic, who lost his life in an automobile accident.
It was at the Public Library that I got to know John really well. He would come in every day after working out, walking, swimming or skiing and read the major daily newspapers while I was researching my history of Berlin.
He told me that he loved reading my stories and that he had personally remembered some of them while living here. John had a lot of knowledge about the city, being born and raised here after his father emigrated from Russia.
Mr. Kovalic loved sports and was a member of Berlin High School's last New Hampshire state championship baseball team during his senior year of 1948. He was also a member of the basketball team that went to the class "A" finals in the state of New Hampshire that same year. As a matter of fact, he drove in the winning run for the baseball championship. He told me that he remembers standing at the plate getting this hit 67 years ago like it was yesterday.
Kovalic had a Masters degree in engineering before he entered the Navy at the end of the Korean War in 1953, where he became an officer. He then went to dental school and became an oral surgeon, having a practice for many years here in this town, before retiring.
Not only was he a great ballplayer, but he was an excellent golfer and skier, still going down the slopes in his late seventies. John won three AVCC championships in the late 1960's and 1970's. He also won two titles at the famous Waumbec Country Club during that same time.
John had a pet peeve about which he would always discuss with me. That was when he was a director of the Community Club and he literally begged the city of Berlin to buy this building when it closed and not let it be sold off. Many of his conversations always came back to this subject and he would say to me "see what happened".
John loved to travel back to his roots in Russia and would tell me about his trips, even the day he got mugged over there. Before he would leave, he told me that he always had someone saving the papers with my stories in them, so that he could read them when he returned. Sadly, no one has to save these stories for him anymore, rest in peace John.
I mentioned in my last article that the foot bridge opposite Seventh Street was just above today's walking bridge. I was wrong, as it was just below this bridge.
During the end of May 1915, a wedding of great interest took place at the O.B. Brown residence on Church and High Streets. It was the marriage of Miss Hildreth Burton Smith to Mr. William Robinson Brown. The bride was the granddaughter of General John B. Gordon of Georgia. Her mother, Francis Gordon Smith was the sister of Mrs. O. B. Brown of this city. The groom was the son of the late W. W. Brown, a younger brother of O. B. Brown and a part owner of the Berlin Mills Company (Brown Company).
The wedding took place at noon on Thursday May 27, 1915 and was attended by over 300 guests. Just how happy the couple was before leaving the party was unknown as they somehow eluded everybody after this huge ceremony. Although a search was made, no trace of them was found as they headed for their honeymoon to San Francisco and other points.
On their return, they made their home on Church Street in Berlin where Mr. W.R. Brown had recently purchased a house. In later years he lived where the chalet is today. This couple did a lot socially for the city of Berlin.
The summer accidents continued as July 1915 rolled around. While playing with a number of little companions on the rocks near the bank of the Androscoggin River just below the Cross Machine Shop on Monday afternoon July 12, five-year-old Rene Cote lost his life.
About five or six young children had been in the habit of hanging around in that vicinity and went there after lunch as usual to play. The rocks were very slippery here and the little fellow ventured too far near the end of them, falling face forward into the water that was quite deep.
When the other children saw their friend fall in they yelled for help. A man named Mr. Savoy, who was close to the scene, saw the child floating down the river. Savoy could not swim and tried to get a boat nearby, but it was locked up. He finally found a boat that was not locked and was able to get to the child, taking him from the water to the shore. Although all was possibly done to save this young lad, life was found to be extinct.
Rene was one of a family of seven children. He and the other kids had been frequently cautioned to keep away from the river. Not heeding these warnings caused a great tragedy for the Cote family and probably many others in these earlier years.
In my story last week, I talked of a fire that took place in "Spruceville", a section of West Milan on the west side of the Upper Ammonusuc River that took the life of a mother and her young daughter.
The following week, Mr. John Walker of Milan was before Judge Wight on Friday, July 16 facing a charge of setting the fire which destroyed this house owned by Thomas Stone. The chief witness was Mrs. Walker, wife of the accused and daughter of Mr. Stone, who lost his wife and younger daughter in the blaze. It was shown in the evidence that Walker had made many threats against the Stone family and warned that he would burn down their house someday.
On the afternoon of the fire, July 7, 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Walker had gone fishing. After this, Mrs. Walker had supper at her parent's home and after returning to her house at about 8:30 pm, she prepared supper for her husband John and after he had finished she did the dishes. At this point, Walker said that he was going to a neighbor's house to get a pair of pants he had left there, but when he returned later he was completely out of breath.
About 10 o'clock, the church bell started to ring for help, signifying that there was a fire nearby. Walker looked out the window and told his wife that her mother's house was on fire. Judging from the appearance of the flames and smoke, Mrs. Walker did not think that it was her parent's residence, by John insisted that it was. They immediately went to the scene to find out that it was indeed the Stone residence.
By the time the Walkers got there, the house and barn were completely destroyed and Mrs. Walker's mother and younger sister had already lost their lives.
At the trial, evidence was produced to show that Walker had not been to the home of a neighbor to get his pants, so he was bound over to the grand jury and could not make his bail. He was then taken to jail in West Stewartstown.
By the end of July 1915, John Walker's actions while he was in jail, led authorities to believe that he was mentally deranged and he was brought to the state hospital in Concord for a period of observation. It was the last I could find of this case so far.
I will continue with the year 1915 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 10:39
Suppose you were asked to name the ten books that made such a powerful impact on you that you could not put them down, books that you read and re-read many times over. Or, perhaps its wasn't a book. Perhaps it was an article or a pamphlet, or a poem.It doesn't need to be ten, either. Perhaps there were only four or five. Or, perhaps, for you, there was not even one. We all have our likes and dislikes.
To be honest, I don't recall where I came across the book challenge. All I recall is that it was sometime during our recent trip to Houston and our cruise in the Western Caribbean. A page of the tablet I had with me is filled with some of the off-the-top-of-my-head answers I immediately jotted down. (Trying my hand at such challenges is something that has always grabbed my interest. The answers given are always very revealing.)
"Words I Wish I Wrote," by Robert Fulghum, was the first title that I jotted down. Regular readers of my columns for this newspaper will not be surprised by that. Subtitled "A Collection of Writing that Inspired My Ideas," the now well-worn book has been in my library since it was first published in 1997. My notes indicate that it has been read cover-to-cover a dozen times since its purchase. Many of the writings that inspired Fulghum's thinking have inspired my own, as well. (The pen name under which I write these columns was derived from a poem included in "Words I Wish I Wrote.)
"The Prophet," by the Lebanese artist, mystic, and writer Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) is second on my list. The high school yearbook of the year I graduated was dedicated to history teacher John Shope. Words from "The Prophet," found in the verses on teaching were chosen: "If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of (his) wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." That was John Shope. And that is any good teacher.
Gibran's masterpiece is another book in my library that has been read many times over the years.
Albert Schweitzer"s "Out of My Life and Thought" was first recommended to me by my high school librarian. Why she specifically singled me out for its reading, I do not know. But I am grateful that she did.
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), as surely everyone knows, was the remarkable German born musician, philosopher, theologian, writer, and physician, who became a medical missionary to Africa. His thinking regarding reverence for all life, human and otherwise, has had a profound effect on my own life.
"Modern Man in Search of a Soul," by the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961), was given to me by a high school student fifty years ago. She had just finished reading it and thought I would find it thought-provoking. I did. And I still do.
As a writer, I have read many a book on writing. but none has been as useful to me as William Zinsser's "On Writing Well." (Another book of his, "Writing to Learn," also holds a place of honor in my read again library.) Although written largely for those of us who write primarily in the field of non-fiction, much of the advice he offers applies to all writing, I think.
As I write this, I am reading the chapter on travel writing. I have read only a few pages so far, but new ideas for making my travel writing come more alive are already in my notebook, ready for application.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity of taking an unforgettable photography workshop with Gordon and Cathy Illg. For five memorable days we visited Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. The vistas captured by my camera are among my prized possessions.
Last year, Gordon and Cathy published a little book called "Worshipping with a Camera." In it, they speak of the feelings they have as they photograph landscapes, seascapes. wildlife, and the day and night skies above them. For them, photographing the natural world is the same as having a spiritual experience. Their cathedral is the very earth on which they walk.
I understand. I feel the same way when I am taking such pictures. Gordon and Cathy Illg are speaking to and for me.
These are some of the books that have had and continue to have a profound influence on how I think and how I choose to live my life. Such books are not for everyone, I know. But they are among the books to which I turn time and again. They never fail to inspire.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 13:17
Yes, RSVP is a great way to make sure your seat is saved at a wedding or some other event, however, to over 60 non-profit agencies and our matured and experienced population, RSVP means so much more.
RSVP, to us, stands for Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, which is part of a nationwide network of over 500,000 volunteers age 55 and up. Coos County RSVP is the "hub" for connecting volunteers to meaningful roles in their communities. We are fortunate to have over 300 volunteers enrolled and serving in Coos County.
Our volunteers contribute over 50,000 hours during the course of a year, saving non-profit agencies up to a half a million dollars. We find that to be very exciting! In fact, so much so that we'd like to increase our numbers and make a bigger impact in the North Country. Therefore we are beginning a search to recruit more volunteers to share in the benefits and goodwill others are already experiencing.
RSVP staff identify, interview, enroll and place volunteers in six focus areas; Education, Economic Opportunity, Disasters, Healthy Futures, Outdoor Stewardship and Veterans and their Families. We have also developed a work plan for Community Infrastructure to capture other volunteer activities that don't fit these areas but certainly help to make our communities strong.
RSVP partners with hospitals, chambers of commerce, schools, faith based organizations, municipalities and many other non-profit agencies to offer interesting and meaningful opportunities for people wanting to donate their experience toward solving a problem or positively enhancing a program's operations.
The way that volunteer connections are made typically begins when the RSVP office gets a request for a volunteer with specific skills. Using our Volunteer Reporter database we create a list of people who match the skill set needed. The lists are developed based on areas of interest and skills volunteers have identified during their enrollment into RSVP. That information coupled with our firsthand knowledge of the volunteers gives us the ability to choose the volunteers best suited to the volunteer role. We give those volunteers a call and explain the request for services; it is then their option to accept or decline the request.
An acceptance allows us to contact the agency requesting help and set up an introduction and get the volunteer started. If the volunteer declines we thank them for listening to the request, understand their circumstances and let them know that we will try them again another time; then we move to the next volunteer we think will properly fill the request. The RSVP staff is respectful of the volunteer's time and other commitments and so there is never a feeling of disappointment if a volunteer has to decline for whatever reason and frankly they don't even have to give a reason; after all they are a volunteer!
Volunteers' skills are used to greet and give directions to people, take and record water samples, read to small children, prepare for and assist in recovery after a disaster, teach English as a second language, get people to medical appointments, groom trails, deliver food, tend to office duties, contribute as a member of boards/committees and so much more.
If you'd like to read a little more about RSVP before contacting us, please check out our webpage at www.cooscountyrsvp.org You might also like to drop in on Kathy, Director and Vicky, Program Coordinator at their office located in Tri-County CAP's building on 30 Exchange St. (old train station across from the post office) in Berlin. We welcome all who want to learn more about our meaning of "RSVP".
Kathy McKenna is the Director at Coos County RSVP.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 18:32
After weeks of asking Republican leaders how they will pay for their tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of businesses in the state, an answer has finally emerged like rolling thunder over the landscape.
The House Republicans last week rocked New Hampshire by proposing draconian budget cuts that would devastate priorities for our people and businesses while down-shifting costs to local communities.
House Republicans' misguided cuts would all but eliminate the Department of Transportation's basic ability to keep and maintain our roads and bridges, essentially hanging a giant "closed for business" sign on our state.
Even more disturbing than what their "plan" would do to our roads, however, is what it would to our people. It targets some of our most vulnerable citizens, who rely on a very thin state government safety net, by ending Medicaid Expansion and cutting services for individuals with developmental disabilities and seniors, including cuts to the meals on wheels program. But that's not all; Republicans have also proposed cuts to the university system, to combating substance misuse (during an opioid crisis), and to economic development and tourism promotion.
Making matters worse, Senate Republicans have voted to provide more tax giveaways to big (often out-of-state) businesses, blowing a massive hole in our state budget and inevitably leading to even further cuts that would hurt our families, small businesses and economy. Many of these costs will shift onto local and county governments, resulting in higher local property taxes.
The bottom line is that Republican legislative leaders are stuck in worn-out, radical ideological warp that's hurting New Hampshire and holding us back. They are tightening the vise grip of budget cuts and big business tax giveaways that make it impossible for the state to invest in the priorities required for our economy to thrive and grow.
The path to success is clear; we need to make tough choices and strategic investments in order to expand opportunity for all, support businesses throughout our state, and lay the foundation for a new generation of economic growth.
Jeff Woodburn, of Dalton, is the Senate Democratic Leader and has represented the North Country in the Senate since 2012.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 18:16