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JOHN PRESBY HANDS - BEDFORD, Mass. - John Presby Hands, whose beaming smile and generous and playful spirit endeared him to generations of family and friends, died peacefully Feb. 24, 2014, at home in Bedford, Mass., surrounded by his family. John and Virginia, his wife of 66 years, were previously residents of Jericho, Vt., and Montclair, N.J., where they raised their three children. An accomplished civil engineer for more than 40 years, John supervised the construction of dozens of factories, hospitals, and office buildings including the first Giants Football Stadium in the NJ Meadowlands, the AT&T (Sony) "Grandfather Clock" and Chemical Bank office towers on Madison Avenue in NYC, the Federal Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., and IBM World Headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. Born March 8, 1920, in Rutherford, N.J., John was the only child of Daisy Louise Presby and William Charles Hands Jr. and the youngest of five cousins in a close-knit extended family. Some of his fondest memories were of summers on the family farm in Washingtonville, N.Y. After graduation from Rutherford High School, John followed in his father's footsteps to Dartmouth College where he played lacrosse and earned his BA in 1941, and a BS from the Thayer School of Engineering in 1942. He remained a lifelong "son of Dartmouth." In World War II, John served as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant JG and afterward remained in the Naval Reserve for 20 years. John and Virginia didn't meet until after the war, although they grew up around the corner from each other in Rutherford where they married on March 19, 1948. John always enjoyed playing games with words, cards, balls, puzzles, and most of all with his children and grandchildren gathered around the big dining room table that had been his grandfather's. At a special event while at Dartmouth, John pitched three strikes in a row to Babe Ruth who then sent a fourth pitch sailing away. In retirement, John became a competitive duplicate bridge player and in his later years, even after developing symptoms of Alzheimer's, he spent hours with jigsaw puzzles and sharing laughs with the staff at Carleton Willard Village. He is survived by his wife, the former Virginia Hyers Rutter; children, Susan Taylor and husband, Gary, of Lincoln, Mass., John P. "Jack" Hands Jr. and wife, Tracy, of Barrington, R.I., and Jennifer Frick and husband, Richard, of Jericho, Vt.; five grandchildren, Matthew and Rebecca Taylor, William O. Frick, and Allison and Lindsey Hands; and older cousin, James A. Hands, age 100, of Mystic, Conn. The family will gather privately for a memorial service. Remembrances and condolences may be sent to the Hands Family c/o Carleton Willard Village, 100 Old Billerica Road, Bedford, MA 01730, or posted in the online Guest Book at Please send donations in John's memory to the MANH , 480 Pleasant Street, Watertown, MA 02472.

Published in The Burlington Free Press from Mar. 2 to Mar. 5, 2014
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