Cook on Concord: Patrick Duffy, N.H. business leader

At the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire’s recent annual dinner, business leader Patrick Duffy was awarded the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In the presentation of the award, the following tribute was offered by this author, who had the honor of presenting the award, and who is a friend and admirer of the honoree:

“Thinking about presenting this award, I thought of two words. The first one is ‘serendipity.’

“Serendipity is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as ‘the faculty of making a fortunate and unexpected discovery by accident.’

“It was serendipity of a sort that befell New Hampshire and our recipient when tonight’s recipient of the BIA Lifetime Achievement Award was sent here by the telephone company to head its operations as president for New Hampshire in 1986. He never left — and New Hampshire has been fortunate that he chose to make his home here.

“He has served as commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services, is a business consultant, retired Vietnam veteran Air Force colonel, and active community volunteer and contributor who has led so many boards and commissions that many thought his first name really is not Patrick, but ‘Chairman.’

“He was chairman of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce board of directors, where, in another example of serendipity, it was discovered that he was a commercially rated pilot and therefore fit an opening on the Manchester Airport Authority Board, where he soon was chairman and instrumental in the construction of the new airport terminal that heralded a new age of transportation and economic development. His tough and demanding oversight made that vision a reality and proved him as a real builder.

“That determination and leadership as a builder also were key in the building of the Nynex building at 900 Elm St. and, more recently, as president of the Currier Museum of Art, the expanded museum facility. He also has helped guide the restoration and relocation of the first Manchester Airport terminal that now serves as the Museum of the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society.

“He has been chairman of the board of Optima Health, Notre Dame College, the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund, and governor’s task forces on education and personnel system — not all easy or popular assignments. He has been a member of the BIA board, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, was named Manchester Citizen of the Year, UNH Granite State Award recipient, is a teacher of business law at Southern New Hampshire University, and a CASA volunteer, showing that he benefits causes as large as the state and individual as unknown persons in need.

“This year’s recipient continues tirelessly to contribute to his adopted state — and we all are richer for it.

“He is a graduate of Holy Cross College, Babson College and New England School of Law. Also, it was more than serendipity that our recipient met his wife Jaye Gibson at the telephone company, as she has been a supportive participant in all the cited accomplishments and is a distinguished citizen of New Hampshire in her own right.

“As with all past Lifetime Achievement Award winners, this year’s recipient accomplished much in business and industry, and has given much more back to the community and state. Adding it all up, the second operative word that occurred to me is not serendipity — it is ‘leadership.’

“New Hampshire should be proud and appreciate of the contributions of Patrick Duffy — and glad he was sent here.”


There are a number of great New Hampshire products and services residents should know and salute.

The Mount Washington Hotel, newly renovated and under the leadership of Pat Corso and his associates, reopened the 18-hold Donald Ross golf links in August. Now closed for the winter, the course will challenge and delight golfers come this next year. The re-engineered course is a delight, although players will wonder, after playing the back-to-back par 5 10th and 11th holes, “Pat, what were you thinking?”

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