Notable NH Deaths: Litchfield Farmer Bill Rodonis; Dartmouth Professor Roger Masters

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This monument to Josie A. Langmaid, a student at Pembroke Academy, was erected after her horrific murder on Oct. 4, 1875. Josie was on her way to school when she was abducted and killed by a woodcutter name Joseph Lapage, who was hanged for her murder in 1878. The monument sits on the side of Academy Road in Pembroke directly across from the entrance to Three Rivers School. Through the years, her death has generated lots of interest – not only due to the details of the crime, but also to how it was investigated and how Lapage was tried again after the first conviction was thrown out. A number of videos are available on YouTube about the case. 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

William J. Rodonis Jr., 80, of Litchfield, died June 23, 2023. He grew up on the family farm, the Rodonis Farm in Litchfield, and worked in the fields starting as a young boy. Upon his retirement, he grew large pumpkins and entered many competitions, winning many awards. He became a world record holder for growing the largest pumpkin. He served on many boards including the Litchfield Planning Board and National Potato Growers Association, and he was vice president of New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association. (Dumont-Sullivan Funeral Homes)

Roger D. Masters, 90, of Hanover, died June 22, 2023. He was a longtime professor of government at Dartmouth College. After graduating from Harvard College in 1955 and serving two years of military service, he received his Ph.D. in 1961 from the University of Chicago and taught at Yale before moving to Dartmouth in 1967. He retired in 1998 as the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus. He was best known for work in political philosophy, and his dissertation on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and subsequent work focused on how democratic ideals are shaped by scientific knowledge. He wrote many books, including “The Political Philosophy of Rousseau” (1968, reprinted 2015), ”The Nature of Politics” (1989), “Primate Politics” (1991), and “Machiavelli, Leonardo and the Science of Power” (1996). He served two years as the cultural attache for the U.S. Embassy in Paris (1969-70), and consulted for the Department of Defense (1991-97). (Rand-Wilson Funeral Home)

Shirley Frances (Dean) King, 88, of Nashua, died June 28, 2023. While residing in Connecticut, she was a reporter for the Journal Inquirer newspaper, and in Maryland, she was a human resource administrator for Salisbury University. She retired and moved to Nashua, working for the Beaver Brook Association of Hollis, assisting with fund raising and events. She was a member of the Chelmsford, Mass., Senior Center and the Elks Lodge 817 Auxiliary of Salisbury, Md. (Farwell Funeral Service)

Purnell Frederick “Fred” Ross, 85, of Dover, died June 22, 2023. A chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, he joined the armed forces at the age of 16. He was the recipient of many military honors including the National Defense Services Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Three Bronze Service Stars, and was named the Seacoast NAACP’s 2012 Freedom Fighter and recipient of the Dover Citizen’s Service Award. He was an active member of the Air Force Sergeants Association for many years and was the vice president of the New England Area Conference (NEAC) of NAACP for over 13 years. He was a member of the N.H. Commission for Human Rights. He taught Aerospace Science ROTC at Spaulding High School for 16 years and at Dover High School. (Tasker Funeral Home)

Kevin V. Dugas, 79, of Lee, died June 23, 2023. A graduate of Tufts Dental School in Boston, he served in the U.S. Army as a dentist for three years in Germany. He opened his general dentistry practice in Durham and was in practice for more than 40 years. He coached Little League and Babe Ruth for the Oyster River Youth Association for many years and was a volunteer at St Thomas More Church cooking for Italian Night or repairing the church bell on the roof.  He helped at the food pantry as well. After retiring, he volunteered dental services at Families First in Portsmouth at the clinic and on the mobile unit in Rochester and Exeter.  He travelled to Haiti annually for more than 20 years to provide dental services at the Haitian Health Foundation. (Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home & Crematory)

Diane Noreen Kokaras, 80, of Seabrook, died June 22, 2023. She and her husband Peter owned several businesses, including a convenience store and two restaurants including K’s Country Rib House and Captain K’s Seafood Steakhouse in Seabrook. (Paul C. Rogers Family Funeral Home)

Alton M. Hopkins Jr., 97, of Nashua, died June 26, 2023. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he worked for more than 40 years  in the insurance industry with Liberty Mutual and the Hartford Group where he was regional claim manager for the Hartford in Boston until his retirement in 1992. He was a member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars and served as commander of Hudson VFW post 5791, district 6 commander and departmental chief of staff. He was also a member of American Legion Post 28, Hudson. He served in the masons at Bethlehem Lodge 35 AF & AM, Augusta, Maine, Lodge Council Chapter Consistory Scottish Rite Bodies in the valley of Nashua, Bektash Temple Shrine where he served as commander of the Bektash Legion of Honor and Major of the Shrine. (

Peter Stephen Hinkley Jr., 57, of Alexandria, died June 22, 2023. A U.S. Army veteran and member of the Army National Guard, he served in the Aleppo Shrine of Wilmington, Mass., and was a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret 32 degree with the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He served as treasurer of  the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Mount Zion No. 0. He was also active in two grand lodges of Florida, Cypress No. 295, and Veritas No. 396. He was Junior Deacon in his home Lodge Union No. 79. (Mayhew Funeral Homes)

Richard A. Esposito, 59, of Plymouth, died June 22, 2023. He and his wife owned and operated Plymouth Pet and Aquarium since opening in 1985 and retiring in 2021. He also owned a shopping plaza and residential apartment complex.  (Mayhew Funeral Home)

Frederick Wilson Merrill, 74, of Derry, died June 26, 2023. He was an accountant in his own practice for 45 years. He supported the Greater Derry Community Health Services, Alexander Eastman Foundation, Derry Little League, Derry Rotary Club, Nutfield School, and First Parish Church of East Derry. (Peabody Funeral Home)

Roger Y. Grondin, 75, of Londonderry, died June 25, 2023. A U.S. Army veteran, he was the owner of Photography by the Grondins for 35 years, specializing in school portraits, weddings, and sports photography. (Peabody Funeral Homes)

Brian Edwards Flood, 35, of Newmarket and formerly of Hampton Falls, died June 25, 2023. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he was a commercial fisherman and fished for scallops and squid out of Rye Harbor aboard the F/V Rimrack for several seasons. He started his own business, Quarterdeck Lobster Company, fishing out of Rye Harbor on his boat, the Linda Anne. He was a former captain with the Hampton Falls Volunteer Fire Department. In January 2019, he was hired as a firefighter with the Somersworth Fire Department. (Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory)

Roland E. Farland, 89, of Manchester and formerly of Merrimack, died June 26, 2023. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he retired from Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company in 1999 after 25 years. He was a former director of MYA Girls Basketball and Softball, a former member of the Merrimack Zoning Board, and a former president of the Merrimack Senior Citizens. He was also a member of the American Legion and Benevolent 7 Masonic Lodge in Milford. (Rivet Funeral Home & Crematorium)

Marcia E. Feener, 82, of Franklin, died June 23, 2023. She started Feener Associates in 1977, supplying training materials to help employees improve themselves, work better in teams and deliver top-notch customer service.  She sold her business in 2015. She and her husband Russ were founding members of the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association and an integral part of the Trestle View Park trailhead in downtown Franklin. She was a member of the Franklin Business and Professional Women, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and a board member of the Webster Lake Association. (Rivet Funeral Home & Crematorium)

Mary E. Grenier, 81, of Lempster, died June 26, 2023. She was a Lempster selectman from 1994 to 2001 and 2007 to 2023. She also served on the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission from 2013 to 2023. (Stringer Funeral Home)

WORDS OF WISDOM: “My legacy doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that I be remembered. It’s important that when I stand before the Lord, he says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ I want to finish strong.” – James Dobson Jr., born April 21, 1936

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