Notable New Hampshire Deaths: Former State Rep. Eugene Gagnon

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Major-General John Stark, known as the “Hero of Bennington” during the Revolutionary War, had an uncanny knack for predicting where the enemy British Army would attack next. He is also the source of New Hampshire’s famous - or infamous - license plate motto, “Live Free or Die.” He is buried here in Manchester at Stark Park, 550 North River Road, a 30-acre city park that was once part of Stark’s farm. He was born Aug. 28, 1728, in Londonderry – then known as Nutfield - and died May 8, 1822, at age 93 (Monday will be the 295th anniversary of his birth). He is credited with writing his famous words 136 years before they became the official state motto. The unabbreviated version is “Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.” 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

Eugene Leo Gagnon, 80, of Londonderry and a longtime resident of Manchester and Largo, Fla., died Aug. 21, 2023. He was a N.H. state representative for Hillsborough District 48, serving from 1990 to 2000, and served on committees including Children, Youth and Juvenile Justice, State and Federal Relations. He was vice chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. He was the assistant leader of the Majority Party and served on the National Conference of State Legislators, serving as vice chair on the Developmental Disabilities Task Force. Among his many civic and charitable contributions, he was a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus, Our Lady of the Cedars Council 5260 and served as Grand Knight for four years.  He was also a member of the Bishop Bradley Assembly, Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and past Faithful Navigator. He volunteered with the International Order of the Alhambra El-Feri Caravan 119 in Manchester and served as Grand Commander.  He served two terms on the St. Raphael School Board and the Catholic Charities Ministry for Persons with Disabilities, where he served on the advisory board and was vice chair of the ADA field day at Crotched Mountain. From 1993 to 1994, he was the vice chair of the Vocational Rehab of N.H. Independent Living Council. He had worked as a quality control inspector for General Electric in the Aircraft Division in Hooksett for many years. (Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory)

Alfred Sapienza Jr., 90, of Manchester, died Aug. 17, 2023. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he retired as a math teacher from Southside Junior High School in 1997. He was a member of the American Legion Sweeney Post and the Knights of Columbus.  For 25 years he was a member of Kairos, a program to rehabilitate inmates and create a Christian environment behind prison walls.  He was state chairman for seven years and a member of the national executive board for six years.  (Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory)

Paul H. Paquette, 79, of Hudson, died Aug. 23, 2023. He began in management positions at Firestone in Nashua, with stops at B.F. Goodrich, then Merchant’s Tire (Lowell, Mass.) before landing at BJ’s Wholesale Club for 18 years, retiring in 2010. At BJ’s, he was president and board member of BJ’s Maine, New Hampshire and Mercer Trust. He was a member of the Nashua Kiwanis Club, West Springfield, Mass., Lions Club and Rotary Club in Lowell, Mass. He was president of the Mission Pointe Condo Association for six years. (Dracut Funeral Home)

Richard J. Lamerand, 90, a native of Nashua, died Aug. 17, 2023. A captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, he taught history for years at Appleton Academy in New Ipswich. He was a Nashua alderman from Ward 4 in the early ‘70s. He left teaching and built a family real estate business in Nashua. (Zis-Sweeney and St. Laurent Funeral Home)

Stephen Joseph Lesniak, 74, of Manchester, died Aug. 21, 2023. He began working as a roofer at Skyline Roofing in 1969 and worked his way up to foreman and estimator. He bought the company in 1986 and owned and operated it until he sold it in 2019. (J.N. Boufford & Sons Funeral Home)

Sheila A. (Gallipeau) DeSimone, 77, of Seabrook, died, Aug. 18, 2023. She was a dressmaker and seamstress who owned The Blushing Bride, operated out of her home in Plaistow until she relocated to Route 125. She served generations of brides as well as young women attending high school proms. (Brookside Chapel & Funeral Home)

Shirley Carolyn (D’Ambroise) Desmarais, 90, of Derry, died Aug. 17, 2023. She was an expert seamstress and opened a bridal business, Shirley’s Bridal Shoppe, in Londonderry in 1965. Later she became a real estate broker with Tinkham Realty and Berkshire Hathaway in Londonderry. She studied and loved music and was a classical pianist. (Peabody Funeral Homes & Crematorium)

Edward Walter Drew, 91, of Gorham, died Aug. 19, 2023. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he was superintendent of building, grounds, and transportation for the Gorham School District from 1956 to 1972, when he became a teacher of industrial arts at Berlin Middle School, retiring in 1991. He was a member of the Gorham Rotary Club, serving as president. He was chairman of the Gorham Recreation Committee for many years and coached varsity and JV Girls basketball, Berlin-Gorham Varsity softball, and Berlin Middle School baseball. He also coached for Gorham Recreation Department teams and the Androscoggin Valley Retired Educators. (Bryant Funeral Home)

Elizabeth Whitney Newell, 66, of Laconia, died Aug. 17, 2023. She became the first female Acolyte in the N.H. Episcopal Diocese in the 1960s, attended Grace Episcopal Church in Concord, and served as an Acolyte at St. Ann’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport, Maine. She was past Worthy Advisor of Laconia Assembly 3 International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, past Grand Christian Flag Bearer, and past Grand Charity of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. She was a 48-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star serving as Matron of Peabody-Mt. Washington Chapter 35, Tilton, and Ellacoya Chapter 43, Holderness. She was former vice president of the Belknap County Family Against Violence Committee and volunteered at the Gilford Public Library for many years. She was employed by the N.H. Judicial Branch as a court monitor/assistant, retiring in 2022. (Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services)

Joan A. Grapes, 90, of New Hampton, died Aug. 18, 2023. She wrote or co-wrote more than a dozen books about banking and finance, as well as a cookbook, under the name Joan German-Grapes.  She also co-wrote a monthly newsletter, the Bank Teller’s Report, for more than 20 years. She was a founding member of the Berkshire Poet’s Workshop. (Ross Funeral Home)

Stephen W. Tunberg, 76, of Sandown, died Aug. 16, 2023. A U.S. Navy veteran, he formerly lived in Chester, where he served with the Chester Fire Department for more than 20 years, many spent as fire chief. He was employed as a teacher for 30 years in the Manchester school system. (Peabody Funeral Homes and Crematorium)

Gloria Duchano, 93, of Wolfeboro, died Aug. 19, 2023. She was a paralegal in a law firm performing real estate closings, and she worked for 50 years. Until June, she worked at the Law Offices of Marbury and Marbury, PLLC. (Lord Funeral Home)

Evelyn Auger, 89, of Sanbornton, died July 22, 2023. She was member of the Sanbornton Planning Board for more than 20 years, serving as chairman multiple times. She was a library trustee, selectman, and a long-time member of the Sanbornton Historical Society, serving as president. Her great love of history translated into reenactments and books. She helped found a Revolutionary War era reenactment group, the Chase Taylor Militia, that celebrated real soldiers from Sanbornton who served in the American Revolution. She did public presentations across the state on Mary Baker Eddy, Victorian mourning, the dam built between Franklin and Hill, Revolutionary War soldiers from Sanbornton, and Civil War letters written by Sanbornton soldiers while they were away at war. Many of these performances were done in accurate historical costuming with authentic exhibits. In addition, Evelyn would also present on a variety of historical topics for the Sanbornton Historical Society. She wrote several books including “Hannah Lane of the Center Square,” a children’s book about a little girl who lived at Lane Tavern in 1838; “365 Todays,” the original 1868 diary of John Morrison Blaisdell who was a Sanbornton resident and farmer; and “Alphonse Auger,” a biography of her father-in-law and his roots. She worked in various departments for the State of New Hampshire including the Department of Employment Security, Division of Welfare, and Division of Mental Health. (Thibault-Neun Funeral Home)

WORDS OF WISDOM: “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot—it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” – Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928, to May 28, 2014

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