Notable New Hampshire Deaths: Three Well-Known Businessmen Left Us Last Week

Print More

Bob Charest photo

The Thomas Wright Hale Cemetery at the intersection of Routes 9 and 202 in Barrington. Hale, a farmer and state representative, died in 1843. He and several of his family members are buried at the small burial plot. His father was Major Samuel Hale, who is buried at the North Cemetery in Portsmouth. Samuel Hale was master of the Latin Grammar School in Portsmouth for nearly 40 years. He also was a state representative and judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1771 he was granted a tract of over 1,200 acres of land near Conway by royal Gov. Benning Wentworth. That unincorporated place is called Hale's Location. scans the websites of New Hampshire funeral homes each week and selects at random some of our friends, relatives and neighbors to feature in this column. The people listed here passed away during the previous week and have some public or charitable connection to their community. is now offering obituaries through the service. We view this as part of our public service mission. Click here or on the Obituaries tab at the top of our home page to learn more. And if you know of someone from New Hampshire who should be featured in this column, please send your suggestions to

Among those who left us last week were three prominent businessmen, including the former chairman of the board of Merchants Automotive Group in Hooksett, a member of the founding family of Steenbeke and Sons Home Center, and the founder and longtime owner of Seacoast Harley-Davidson.

Gary Singer, 67, a lifelong Manchester resident, died Nov. 15, 2022. For over 50 years, he was an integral part of Merchants Automotive Group, which was started by his parents 60 years ago.  Prior to his retirement, he was chairman of the board. Singer was a philanthropist who aided many organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater New Hampshire, Hadassah, Chabad of New Hampshire and his lifelong synagogue, Temple Israel. He was also an active volunteer for the Salvation Army, where he served on the board of directors, volunteered at the Kids’ Café, rang the bells each year for the holidays, and participated in their annual warm clothing drive. Gary’s charitable efforts led to him being awarded the highest civilian honor the Salvation Army can bestow, the William Booth award. (Levine Chapels, Brookline, Mass.)

Raymond F. Steenbeke Sr., 80, of Boscawen, died Nov. 9, 2022. In 1954 Ray and his family moved to New Hampshire after purchasing Reed’s Grocery Store. Steenbeke’s Grocery Store eventually evolved into Steenbeke and Sons Home Center. An electrical engineering major, he worked at Link Aviation on the Apollo space program and then for Westinghouse. His father invited him to join the family business and in 1966, he moved back to Boscawen. He served as president of Concord Country Club from 1999-2001. (Bennett Funeral Home)

John D. McGonagle, 80, of Gilford, founder and longtime owner of Seacoast Harley-Davidson, died Nov. 11, 2022. A decorated U.S. Marine Corps pilot, he was an alumnus and long-time supporter of Hebron Academy in Maine and Colgate University. As a pilot, he completed one and a half tours in Vietnam. He worked for PSA airlines in California, and later Eastern Airlines for 20 years.  He purchased a small, six-employee motorcycle dealership in North Hampton in 1989, and Seacoast Harley-Davidson was created. In 25 years, the business grew to three dealerships, including Boston Harley-Davidson in Everett, Mass., and Rochester (N.H.) Harley-Davidson, employing 180. (J. Vern Wood Funeral Home)

Donald  E. Francoeur Jr., 74, formerly of Hillsborough and recently of Northbridge, Mass., died Nov. 12, 2022.  In his early career, he was an educator, teaching English in Weare and Hillsborough.  In the early eighties, he owned Atlas Subs and Pizza in Hillsborough.   He then sold real estate on the seacoast. He served as chairman of Pro Portsmouth, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and sustaining the vitality of Portsmouth’s arts, culture and history. (Pickering & Son Upton Funeral Home, Upton, Mass.)

Sharon Ann Burnston, 76, of Epsom, died Nov. 12, 2022. She worked as a museum curator and became an expert on late 18th century American clothing, writing a book on the subject. She did archaeological field work in ancient settlements in Israel, unearthed Native American prehistory in Washington state, and excavated important findings from American colonial history in Philadelphia and Maryland. She produced historically accurate replica garments and patterns, schooled a generation of clothing historians and historical re-enactors, and even advised Hollywood. (Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory)

Dr. Christine Mary Sweeney, 101, of Keene, died Nov. 12, 2022. She prevailed as plaintiff in a federal court case, Sweeney v. Keene State College, fighting all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, for equal pay and promotion opportunities for women in higher education. She taught from 1943 to 1960 at schools in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Virginia. She studied for her doctorate while teaching and was appointed to the full-time faculty at Catholic University. She later joined the faculty at Emmanuel College in Boston, and in 1969, she joined the faculty of Keene State College, where she taught until her retirement in 1992. She volunteered for the Keene Historic Society of Cheshire County and the St. Joseph School Library. She also served as a lector and eucharistic minister at Saint Bernard Catholic Church. She was a former member of the Keene Chorale. (DiLuzio Foley And Fletcher Funeral Homes)

George ‘Buddy’ Edwin Faris, of Laconia, died Nov. 14, 2022. A U.S. Army veteran during the Vietnam War, he served as a member of the Laconia City Council Ward 4. (Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services)

John E. Whedon, 74, of Franklin, died Nov. 9, 2022. A well-known photographer, he was also chief of police for the town of Andover. He and his wife Marg opened a part-time portrait and wedding studio in 1981, and they moved to Tilton in 1986, where their barn turned photo and art studio became a full-time venture. A U.S. Army veteran during the Vietnam war, he was a full-time police officer with Franklin Police Department and a part-time ski patrolman at Ragged Mountain. He served as captain on the Andover Rescue Squad. He was also a machinist for 14 years at Sturm Ruger Firearms in Newport, a  correctional officer at Merrimack County Correctional Facility, a security officer at Concord Hospital for 10 years, and head of security at Monadnock Hospital in Peterborough for five years. (Thibault – Neun Funeral Home)

David F. Littlefield, 78, of Somersworth, died Nov. 12, 2022. He taught for over 40 years in southern Maine, Rochester and Newmarket. He served Somersworth on both the City Council and the School Board for many terms. He also served on various boards and councils during the many years he resided in Somersworth. (Tasker Funeral Home)

Commander Robert Brendon Stewart, 85, a native of Scituate, Mass., and long-time resident of Portsmouth and Dover, died Nov. 11, 2022. He served across the country and in Vietnam and Germany. He was a quality manager at BAE Systems and volunteered as a Pease Greeter, meeting troops deploying and returning from various combat missions in Southwest Asia. (Tasker Funeral Home)

Laird Klingler, 78, of Cornish, died Nov. 12, 2022. A U.S. Army Intelligence agent veteran, he retired from Princeton University as the librarian of the Woodrow Wilson School.  He was a librarian at Rutgers University.  He served as librarian for the Cornish Historical Society and was active in the Neighbor to Neighbor Group in Cornish where he worked to provide firewood at the recycling center for those in need.  With Volunteers in Action he did installations for the Lifeline Program. (Stringer Funeral Home)

Gloria J. (Rosi) Maguire, 99, a lifelong resident of Milford, died Nov. 15, 2022. She was school nurse for the Milford Elementary Schools for many years and also served as a director of the Pillsbury Home, Milford. She volunteered at the Crestwood Nursing Home and the Souhegan Nursing Association. (Smith & Heald Funeral Home)

Philip Joseph Forrest, 91, a lifelong resident of Nashua, died Nov. 12, 2022. A U.S. Navy Korean War veteran, he and his wife Helen were founding members of St. Josephs the Worker Parish in Nashua. For over 60 years, he participated in the choir, as a lector, and a eucharistic. (Rochette Funeral Home & Cremation Services)

George B. Grant Jr., 88, of Merrimack, died Nov. 15, 2022. He and his wife owned and operated G. Grant Trucking and Moving Co. He was a member of Roving Rodders Club and a driver at Manchester Motordrome and Hudson Speedway. He was one of the early founders of Southern NH Snow Slickers and a trail master. He was a member of the Hooksett Chamber of Commerce, Hooksett Men’s Club, Hooksett Congregational Church, Elks Club No. 146, Baboosic Lake Association, Manchester Radio Aid Inc., Jewel Lodge No. 94 F.A.A.M. Suncook, Hiram Chapter No. 24 and Bektash Shrine. (Rivet Funeral Home)

Robert S. Moore, 84, of Seabrook, died Nov. 13, 2022. He was code enforcement officer for the town of Seabrook, retiring in 2003. He served as a Seabrook selectman from 2006-2012. (Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory)

Gary J. Khoury, 55, of Stratham, died Nov. 12, 2022. A star football player in high school and college, he
was fluent in Japanese and was an instructor at the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program at Sophia University in Tokyo. He was well known in the martial arts community, winning the Southwestern Japanese Championship in Okinawa. He and his wife owned and operated Khoury’s Karate Academy. At the age of 39, in response to 911, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq during the Iraq War. As a captain, he wrote about his experiences in a book titled “Fighting 40.” (Remick & Gendron Funeral Home)

Leslie W. (Bill) Irwin, 94, of Londonderry, died Nov. 12, 2022. A U.S. Navy veteran, he was a teacher and coach at Helen King, Jr. High School, Portland, Maine, Westbrook High School and Belmont, Mass., High School. He was the assistant dean of continuing education for over 40 years and athletic director at Framingham State College (now University), organizing the college’s first men’s basketball team and coached it to two winning seasons. (Peabody Funeral Homes and Crematorium)

Nelson H. Aldrich, 84, of Newport, died Nov. 12, 2022. He taught math at Sunapee High School from 1960-1969 and at Claremont Vocational Technical College from 1969 until his retirement in 1998. He was executive secretary of the Twin State Math League for 40 years. He was also president of the N.H. Math Teachers, trustee of the Richards Free Library for seven years and president of Lake Sunapee Bike Club for 30 years. He was the coordinator of the yearly Lake Sunapee Bike Race and coordinator and player of the Wednesday Night Hockey Group at Kimball Union Academy. (Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home)

William Joseph Harris, 82, of Meredith, died Nov. 14, 2022. A former body builder, he was a U.S. Navy veteran serving during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Working in the insurance profession, he was a partner in  the Horne Insurance Agency in Meredith. He sat on the Maine Mutual Insurance board of directors and served as Exalter Ruler of the Elks Club Orange, Mass., Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Orange, Mass., president of the Meredith Chamber of Commerce, Inter-Lakes Scholarship Committee, a director on the Lakes Region General Hospital board, president of Meredith Kiwanis, and a member of the Lakes Region Community Care Givers. (Mayhew Funeral Homes)

Fred L. Gunter, 87, of Thornton, died Nov. 10, 2022. An MIT graduate and U.S. Army paratrooper veteran, he was director of the Advanced Ballistic Re-entry Vehicle (ABRV) program at Textron, designing re-entry vehicles as a part of the Peacekeepers Program for the U.S. Department of Defense. He served on the Thornton Panning Board for several years. (Mayhew Funeral Homes)

Pauline (Renaud) (Lemire) Lessard, 91, of Hooksett, died Nov. 14, 2022.  She lived in Manchester and Allenstown for most of her life before recently moving to Hooksett. She was an operating room nurse at the former Notre Dame Hospital in Manchester.  She changed careers and owned Pauline Lemire Real Estate for 15 years. She served on the Manchester Board of Health and was a hospice volunteer for 30 years with the Visiting Nurse Association and at Catholic Medical Center. (Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory)

Kurt Schaefer, 54, of Litchfield, died Nov. 12, 2022. He owned and operated Greenworks Landscaping in Hudson for over 20 years, and for the past five years, he was employed with Hudson Quarry. He held many roles with the Litchfield Baseball Association, including president, vice president, and coach. He developed the Justin Bissett Memorial Baseball Complex, volunteering to prepare the land, fundraise, and organize vendors to make the complex a success. He was a Litchfield selectman for three years and was the representative to the Recreation Committee. He was proud of his contribution to help build a new fire station in Litchfield. (Dumont-Sullivan Funeral Home)

Alfred I. “Buzz” Felch, 94, of Kensington, died Nov. 13, 2022. A U.S. Army veteran, he owned and operated Alfred I. Felch Contractor Co. for many years.  He was a founding member of the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department, served as assistant fire chief for many years, and was a fire warden for Rockingham County. He helped establish Kensington’s recycling program and was a representative on the Seacoast Waste Management and Recycling Board. He volunteered as a builder to maintain many of the town’s historic buildings, including the First Congregational Church of Kensington, the Grange building, and the public library. (Brewitt Funeral Home)

Comments are closed.