New Hampshire suffers several late winter losses

The state is diminished with the recent passing of five historic contributors


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Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

February and March saw the passing of several prominent New Hampshire citizens who contributed greatly to this state and will be missed.

Jan Squires of Hollis passed away March 5. The wife of Dr. James Squires -- former gubernatorial candidate, founder of Matthew Thornton Health Plan and the leader of the Endowment for Health for many years -- was a prominent citizen of the town of Hollis, her adopted hometown. She was a delight and inspiration to all who knew her.

She grew up in New London, where her father, Eugene Austin, served on the faculty of Colby-Sawyer College (then Colby Junior College for Women) and was its second president. There she met young Jim Squires, whose father, J. Duane Squires, was a professor of history and the State Historian. Together, they have lived a life of service and contribution to New Hampshire, which should be a model for all of our citizens.

*****

James A. Shanahan Jr., CPA, a prominent New Hampshire business and civic leader and activist, died in Florida at his winter residence.

A native of Manchester, it was noted at his funeral that all of his residences were within a mile and a half of each other in the North End of Manchester. Devoted to Central High School and Dartmouth College, his alma maters, Shanahan was a trustee of the Bean Foundation and many other philanthropic organizations, a mentor to many young people who are now senior business leaders and active in the state Democratic Party, where he urged many -- including John Lynch -- to contribute to their state.

An avid sports memorabilia collector, he spent many hours with young people, including my son James, his next door neighbor, comparing baseball cards and explaining to them the history of that game which he loved.

A quiet leader, Shanahan was a major force in New Hampshire.

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Fred Kfoury Jr., himself a business leader of great note, died while on vacation in Florida of a sudden heart attack.

Longtime president of Central Paper Products, the family business, Kfoury was involved in almost every charitable activity in Manchester imaginable. He was a cheerful force for good, and his calling hours and funeral were attended by crowds of those who wished he had not left us so soon. His good, however, lives on in his family, his business and in his community.

An active Republican, Kfoury contributed much to that party, as Shanahan did to his.

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William E. Arnold, former Manchester city health officer, died at age 92 after a long and distinguished life of service and contribution to Manchester and New Hampshire.

A person of great integrity, like the others mentioned in this column, Arnold was not afraid to buck injustice. Notably, when the Manchester Board of Health sought to fire him in the late 1970s, when he insisted on merit selection for school nurses and other employees, Arnold fought back in a well-publicized legal battle that went all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and restored him to his job.

Warren Rudman, then in private practice with this writer, advised Arnold on his suit. Thereafter active in Rudman’s campaign for the U.S. Senate, Bill Arnold and his wife Bobbi became active in the Republican Party, and Bobbi Arnold served in the New Hampshire House for a number of terms.

In retirement, Arnold continued his interest in the city, politics and such eclectic interests as opera and the arts.

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Jim Finnegan of Manchester, editorial page director of the Union Leader for nearly four decades, passed away at age 82 on March 9.

For 39 years, Finnegan wrote the editorials appearing on the editorial page in the Union Leader, for a long time following the front-page diatribes by publisher William Loeb, who hired Finnegan.

Loeb passed away in 1980, and Finnegan remained the editorial writer until the mid-1990s. Finnegan was remembered by his friends and colleagues as a professional and gracious man who had fun with his adversaries without bearing animosity toward them. Whether his targets always agreed with that assessment or not can be left to others.

Finnegan’s editorials were sharp and his views pointed, reflecting those of his employer. Nevertheless, Finnegan was a major New Hampshire figure, and those who knew him well marveled at his gracious manner and varied interests. A boxing fan and official, he also helped found the Opera League of New Hampshire and shared that interest with the late Robert Hilliard, the paper’s sports editor and close friend of Bill Arnold, mentioned above.

In New Hampshire, a small state, the connections between people are not always apparent. Finnegan’s interest in boxing led to a friendship with Bobby Stephen, a Democrat, and his interests in the arts led to a network of friends in that area.

Finnegan was remembered by many in the state and nationally, for his significant place in New Hampshire journalistic and political history.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

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