Cook on Concord
In the last couple of weeks, the temporal and immediate crises have taken a back seat to passages of more historic moment. Two significant state lawmakers and citizens have died. Their effect on New Hampshire and contributions to our state are significant. William F. Kidder Sr., longtime public servant in New London, passed away last month. He was in his early 90s. Bill Kidder did almost everything you could do in New London, his hometown. A graduate of New London High School, he served his town as town clerk for years, ran the local automobile dealership, developed real estate, lent money to everyone near and far, and, ultimately, founded the New London Trust Company with his friend, the late attorney and Congressman James C. Cleveland (which they later sold for a handsome profit). There were a lot of great stories about Bill Kidder. He used to maintain the automobiles he sold from his dealership on Main Street while also serving as town clerk. Once he was underneath a car and a man in knickers came along and said, “I understand if I am going to move into this town I need to know you.” Kidder rolled out and looked at the man who said, “Hi, I’m Gene Sarazen.” Sarazen later served as a summer pro at the Lake Sunapee Country Club, bought a house in New London and was a presence in the community for decades. Kidder and Jim Cleveland developed much of the land between Main Street and Pleasant Lake in New London. Kidder had a museum located on Pleasant Street in which there were classic automobiles, tools, machines and all sorts of other antiques. He was once asked how much the insurance cost. His answer was a classic: “If I had it insured, it wouldn’t be a hobby.” Luckily, that collection has been turned over to a foundation, which will preserve it. Kidder’s contributions to the state were notable. He was chairman of House Appropriations Committee for many years during his 20-plus years in the Legislature. He was recognized at the time as the most powerful person in the state of New Hampshire and would never take any such credit. A moderate Republican, he was more interested in getting the job done than saluting any particular ideology. However, he would have been recognized as an inherently conservative Republican, making sure that every dollar counted for the state. Kidder’s passing came soon after his son David was elected to his first term in the New Hampshire Legislature. With the same distinctive white hair and clear eye and bright smile, David Kidder promises to continue the seamless contribution of the Kidder family to New Hampshire politics.