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DUNBARTON – Gerry Williams, master potter, magazine editor, teacher, mentor, passed away Sunday, August 24, 2014, after a battle with Parkinson's disease. A longtime resident of Dunbarton, Williams was the co-founder of Studio Potter magazine and Phoenix Workshops, and has been a model and source of inspiration for ceramic artists around the world. Williams was selected as New Hampshire's first Artist Laureate by Governor Jeanne Shaheen in 1998, and in 2005 was honored with New Hampshire's Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award. Williams once wrote, "Potter is what I do, who I am, where I come from." Born Frederick Gerald Williams in 1926 in Asanol, Bengal, India, the son of American educational missionaries, who befriended Mahatma Gandhi, young Williams embraced the Indian leader's philosophy of pacifism. Returning to the United States to attend Cornell College in Iowa in 1943, Williams refused to serve in World War II as a conscientious objector and spent several years in alternate war service, first as a Malaria test victim on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, and then clearing roads at CPS Camp in Tennessee. His refusal to register for the draft eventually led him to a 2-year sentence at Danbury State Penitentiary. A fleeting mention of the craft of pottery in a book he was reading in 1950 resonated deeply with him: Many years later, Williams recognized the "spirit of India" in his work. "The ambiance, the dignity of crafts, the importance of manual labor, the spiritual necessity of the humanistic core of crafts, all come from my background in India." This led him to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in Concord, where, under the auspices of League founder David Campbell, he was given a broom to sweep the floor while he studied under renowned potters Viveka Heino and Richard Moll. He set himself up as a studio potter in the Black Hills section of Concord and started making functional earthenware pottery out of clay he dug from local mudflats. He met his wife Julie Williams when she interviewed him for her morning radio talk show on WFEA, and they built a home and studio in Dunbarton in 1955. By the early 1960s, Williams was well known and respected as one of the few potters in the country able to make a living as an independent craftsman. He became a technical master, innovating with new wet-fire techniques and a photo-resist process in which images are laid directly onto vessels and fired. His interest in color led him to master the elusive Copper Red glaze. His work gradually shifted to stoneware and porcelain, and along with functional and one-of-a kind pots, he began what was perhaps his most significant series of political sculptures, which spanned four decades of satirical, social, and political commentary. "Primarily I am a potter making functional objects, but as I observe social and political behavior around me in this country, I cannot help but put my feelings into articulated clay and say what I feel," said Williams. In 1972 his pottery studio burned to the ground, but out of the ashes sprang two of Gerry and Julie Williams' most significant endeavors: They co-founded Studio Potter, an international journal that became one of the most influential and literate art publications in America, and they also started the Phoenix Workshops at their home in Dunbarton, which attracted potters from around the world as teachers and students. He has taught at Dartmouth College, Willimantic State College, Haystack School, Penland School, the NY State College at Cortland, and the Tasmanian College in Hobart, Australia. He has lectured in Austria, Japan, India, Finland, China and Croatia. He has been a panel member for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington DC. In addition to being selected as New Hampshire's first Artist Laureate and receiving the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award, Williams was elected as a Fellow and received the Gold Medal from the American Craft Council, received Honorary Doctorates from Notre Dame College and Cornell College, Iowa, and was a Lifetime Trustee of the N.H. Institute of Art. He was part of the first delegation of artists and craftspeople to China in 1977, and visited China again in 2000 and 2005 as the Editor of Studio Potter. Charles Musser's 1976 documentary entitled An American Potter explored his life and work, and he is listed in Who's Who in American Art. His one-person exhibitions included those at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in Concord; the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester (which owns 20 pieces of his work in their permanent collection); Colby-Sawyer College, New London; St. Paul's School, Concord; the University of New Hampshire; Southern NH University; the de Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.; the Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vt.; the Museum of American Crafts, New York, N.Y.; the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, Springfield, Mass.; and the University of Utah, Logan, Utah. He showed his work in numerous group shows and exhibitions, including those in California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont and Washington, and exhibited abroad at the Brussel's Fair, the Ostend International, Belgium; the New Delhi World Agricultural Fair; the Victoria and Albert Museum; Objects USA, Ceramics International, 1972; Foshan, China; Prague IAC Exhibition; Art in the Embassies Program, and the US State Department Traveling Exhibitions. In 2009, New Hampshire Magazine named Williams' appointment as Artist Laureate the number one cultural achievement of the last 10 years. Despite his renown, he was known for his gentle demeanor and kindness. "I tried to share what I had and engage the people around me," he said in his simple and understated way. "It's been a wonderful life." Gerry was predeceased by the love of his life, Julie; by his younger brother, Malcolm; and by his daughter, Leslie. He is survived by his devoted daughters and their husbands, Jennifer and Mark Oliver of Goffstown and Shelley and Bill Westenberg of Dunbarton; and his many grandchildren, Chryss Laroche of Barnstead, Brandon and Jackie Williams of Portsmouth, Melissa Cockfield of Hooksett, Jamie Van de Car of New Boston, Aaron Van de Car of New Boston and Aidan and Jake Westenberg of Dunbarton. A celebration of Gerry will be held on Saturday, October 18, at 3 p.m. at 130 Stark Highway South in Dunbarton. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dunbarton Congregational Church, dccucc.org.
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WARNER – Tina Schirmer, 57, passed away Monday, August 25, 2014. Tina was born in Manchester and grew up in Goffstown and Deering. She was a graduate of Goffstown High School, and then earned bachelor degrees in Biology and German at UNH. She worked for Morrison-Knudsen Co., GTE Sylvania, and Golden Rule Insurance. She cofounded Insurance Innovators and Planners. Tina was an avid flower and vegetable gardener; cherished time spent sailing, swimming and kayaking at Lake Sunapee; was a voracious reader and enjoyed classical music; especially enjoyed skiing and hiking in the White and Rocky Mountains; and relished her role as "Julie cruise director" for family travels. Tina was elected to four terms as Trustee for the Pillsbury Free Library, and served as their Treasurer. She served five years on the Warner Fall Foliage Festival Board. Her family included her husband of 31 years, Rick Davies; her mother, Margaret Schirmer of Warner; her sister, Karen Berg of Holliston, Mass.; niece, Emmaline and nephew, Carl; her beloved lab, "Willow"; and as well as many relatives in Switzerland and Germany. She was predeceased by her father, Max Schirmer; and sister, Claudia. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to the Pillsbury Free Library, 18 East Main St., PO Box 299, Warner, NH 03278. There will be a celebration of Tina's life Thursday, Sept. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Warner Town Hall, 5 East Main St.
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Gayle M. Braley, 48, of Concord died peacefully Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, supported by numerous friends and family members, at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston after a four-year fight with cancer. She was born in Newport News, Va., in 1966 to Frederick R. Morrell and Judith Bolles Morrell. She earned both her bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Virginia, and then worked as an attorney for the law firm of Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C. In 1993, she married her husband, Philip R. Braley, and moved to Concord, New Hampshire. They were married for over twenty-one years. Upon moving to Concord, she clerked for the New Hampshire Supreme Court before returning to private practice. She became a highly regarded trusts and estates attorney for the McLane Law Firm in Manchester, New Hampshire. Prior to joining McLane, she also worked for the law firms of D'Amante Couser and Orr & Reno, where she became a director. Gayle took great satisfaction from the practice of law, and enjoyed working with her clients and colleagues. Gayle loved theater, acting in shows while in high school and college, and then in several community theater productions in New Hampshire. Her daughters both caught her love for the performing arts, including theater, music and dance, and Gayle was very active in supporting their efforts behind the scenes. Many of Gayle's closest friends were other parents who she met through her daughters' shows. Gayle loved singing. She was active in her church choir in Concord, and she met her husband in a church choir in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gayle loved arts and crafts, including painting, quilting, scrapbooking and stamping. She made many friends at gatherings where she demonstrated stamping products and techniques. Gayle made friends wherever she went. Her energy and enthusiasm were infectious. Gayle is survived by her husband; her daughters, Laura E. Braley and Cecily A. Braley; her parents of Newport News, Virginia; her brothers, Michael Morrell of Glen Allen, Virginia, and Mark Morrell of Suffolk, Virginia, and their families; her sister, Kathleen Morrell of Ossian, Indiana, and her family; her father-in-law, Brian W. Braley, and mother-in-law, Judith L. Braley, both formerly of Concord, New Hampshire; and her brother-in-law, Andrew K. Braley of Burlington, Connecticut, and his family; and many nieces and nephews. Visiting hours will be held Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bennett Funeral Home, 209 N. Main S., Concord. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Park Street, Concord. Interment will follow at Blossom Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 2 Commerce Drive, Suite 110, Bedford, 03110 or to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284-9168. The Bennett Funeral Home of Concord is in charge of the arrangements.
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Charles Farrington Leahy was born in Claremont on February 27, 1935. His parents, Helen Farrington Leahy and Albert D. Leahy, were community leaders and role models for their two sons. Their father was a lawyer and District Court Judge. Their mother served several terms on the Claremont School Board. Their uncle, John Leahy, was Chief Justice of the NH Superior Court. Chuck was an excellent student and star athlete at Claremont's Stevens High School where he graduated with honors in 1953. He followed his older brother, Albert D. Leahy Jr., to Yale University, graduating with a degree in English in 1957. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Army Intelligence until 1960. After that, he again followed in his brother's footsteps, this time to Harvard Law School where he graduated with honors in 1963. Chuck and his brother both chose to return to their beloved native state to practice law, with Al settling in Claremont, where he became a distinguished lawyer and District Court Judge, and Chuck settling in Concord. In his early career, Chuck was Legislative Counsel to Governor Walter Peterson and came to be recognized as one of New Hampshire's pre-eminent lawyers. Always interested in education, Chuck served on the Concord School Board and as a trustee of The White Mountain School. He helped found the Concord Trust for the Enhancement of Public Education and was a charter member of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society, supporting its efforts to improve K-12 civics education in New Hampshire's public schools. He was also a trustee of NHPTV and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine Law School, teaching its business planning course. Chuck was the trustee of a number of charitable trusts distributing money to many worthy causes. He also served on many community boards. He was particularly proud of his work co-leading a broad study of the NH Court system. Many of the study's recommendations were adopted by the NH Supreme Court and the NH General Court. In 1960, Chuck married Barbara Shimanski. He was devoted to his family, and together they raised five remarkable children, remaining good friends for life. Chuck married Mary Susan (Stein) Galway in 1977. Chuck and Susie were devoted to each other. Together they built a life of richness, full of gatherings with family and friends. Their second home in Kennebunkport, Maine, became the focal point for many wonderful times. The croquet games they hosted for the extended family were legendary! There were summer Nova Scotia vacations, late winter travels across America to their casita in the low desert of southern California and annual excursions with Chuck's Yale roommates to many magnificent places. Chuck died Thursday, August 21, 2014. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his five children and their spouses, Siobhan and Peter Ulrich, Charles, Jr. and Alison Leahy, Matthew and Deb Leahy, Susie Leahy and Rick English and Jonathan and Kristin Leahy; and nine grandchildren, Annie, Clare, Sam, Ben, Thomas, Mick, Max, Samantha and Emma. He also leaves his first wife, Barbara Leahy, of Concord; his brother, Albert D. Leahy, and sister-in-law, Patricia, of Claremont; niece, Alison Angle; nephew, Bill Leahy; and cousins Sam and Charles Farrington. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one's choice or to the NH Supreme Court Society, P. O. Box 1341, Concord, New Hampshire 03302-1341 in support of civics education. There will be an open house for family and friends.
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SPRING HILL, Fla. – Marceline Catherine (Moquin) Denoncourt passed away peacefully Saturday, July 19, 2014, at the age of 78, at her home in Spring Hill, with her loving husband Armand and her three children, Liann, Ronald and Steven by her side. Marceline was born and raised in Manchester, August 31, 1955, the daughter of Francis J. and Auqusta M. (Molderez) Moquin. She was educated in two French parochial elementary schools, St. Peters and Sacred Heart, she was bilingual. Marcy graduated from Manchester West High Class of 1953, as a National Honor Society Student. While in high school she worked at the Telephone Company. Marcy married her husband Armand Paul Denoncourt in 1953 right after graduating high school while he was in the Army. Marcy met Armand when she was 13 years old at the Bedford Grove Roller Way Skating Rink. They skated as a pair and won many skating championships together. While they were in the service they lived on various military installations in the state of New Jersey. Marcy and Armand raised their children on Morrill Road in Hooksett. Marcy worked mother's hours in the electronic industry while her children were growing up. Marcy loved camping on Newfound Lake when her children were young. She loved playing golf with her husband, family and friends, enjoyed Disneyworld in Florida with her grandchildren and spending time with her dogs, Wiggles, Bratly and Beshieu. Marcy and Armand owned several businesses the last being Armand and Marcy's Country Store in Weare for 16 years, they lived on Mt. William Pond Road in Weare. Marcy has resided in Spring Hill with her husband Armand since 2004. Marcy is survived by her loving husband, Armand Paul Denoncourt; three children, a daughter Liann M. (Denoncourt) Staskawicz of Spring Hill and two sons, Ronald P. Denoncourt and fiancee Cheryl McCaig of Alton and Steven R. Denoncourt and his wife, Darcie, of Wakefield; sister, Dorothy (Moquin) Kurtz of Errol; six grandchildren, Natalie Adams, Tammy Denoncourt, Craig Staskawicz, Leighton Denoncourt, Ryan Denoncourt and Sarah Denoncourt; and four great-grandchildren, Kristyn Salvo, Zakkery Salvo, Ashton Hersey and Brianna Staskawicz; and sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws and many loving nieces and nephews. A graveside service will be held Saturday, August 30, at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Cemetery on Beech Street Hill in Manchester. A celebration of life will follow the service at Ron and Cheryl's home in Alton.
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PEMBROKE – Miss Stella V. Kulacz, 90, of Pembroke, formerly of Franklin, died at Pleasant View Center in Concord Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Stella was born in Franklin on June 10, 1924, the daughter of Michael and Agnes (Slowik) Kulacz. She graduated from Franklin High School in 1942 and also studied at Burdett Business College. She was employed at Sulloway & Hollis in Concord for 30 years and later worked for the State Of NH Dept. of Education prior to retiring. She was communicant of St. John the Baptist Church in Allenstown where she was a member of the Choir, the Altar Guild, and the Parish Council. She was also a CCD teacher. Stella belonged to the former Polish Home Assn. in Franklin. Stella was an avid reader and was well versed in many subjects. Family members include her brothers, Walter Kulacz and his wife, Marie of Tilton and Frank Kulacz and his wife, Peggy of Concord; and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by two sisters, Carol Kulacz and Jennie Grabowski; and three brothers, Fred, Albert and Stanley. Visiting hours will be held Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Thibault-Neun Funeral Home, 143 Franklin St., Franklin. A Mass of Christian Burial celebrating Stella's life will be held Friday, Aug. 29, at 11 a.m. in St. Paul Church with burial following in Holy Cross Cemetery. Donations in memory of Stella may be made to St. Gabriel Parish, PO Box 490, Franklin, NH 03235. For directions and an online guestbook, please visit neunfuneralhomes.com.
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Mrs. Barbara L. (Trottier) Barton, 87, a lifetime Franklin resident, passed away Aug. 20, 2014, at Concord Hospital. Barbara was born in Franklin on Aug. 31, 1926, the daughter of Leon and Isabelle (Durgin) Trottier. She attended local schools and worked at the dress shop in Franklin for several years. She later worked at Merrimack County Nursing Home as a nurse's aide and laundry aide for 26 years. Barbara loved going to yard sales, bingo and enjoyed travelling. She will be greatly missed. She is survived by a son, Wayne Barton and his wife, Karen, of South Carolina; daughters Carol Crowley and her husband, Edward, of Rochester, Linda Cropper and her husband, David, of Georgia, Diane Glover of Franklin; a brother, Leon Trottier Jr., and his wife, Rachael, of Northfield; 12 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Maurice Barton, two sons, Bob and John Barton, and a daughter, Maureen Hutchinson. Visiting hours will be held Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Thibault-Neun Funeral Home, 143 Franklin St., Franklin. A graveside service will be held Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Holy Cross Cemetery in Franklin. Donations in memory of Mrs. Barton may be made to St. Gabriel Parish, P.O. Box 490, Franklin 03235 or to the ALS Assn., P.O. Box 6051, Albert Lea, Minn. 56007. For directions and an online guestbook, please visit neunfuneralhomes.com.
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Ethel Dee Niswander, 64, passed unexpectedly Friday, August 15th, 2014. Ethel was born in New Orleans, La., on May 8th, 1950. She grew up in New York City and moved to the Concord area in 1978, where she met and married Donald R. Niswander. Ethel received her Masters of Social Work from Plymouth State College and devoted her life to protecting children. She worked for the State of New Hampshire in the Division of Child Protective Services for over 20 years. She was employed as a Social Worker and later as a Supervisor, and even after her retirement, never lost her passion for helping everyone she could. Ethel was known for building a village around her. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. Her friends were her family, too. She will be missed deeply by all. She was creative and had a deep love of traveling, knitting and home improvement projects. Ethel is predeceased by her husband of over 30 years, Donald R. Niswander. She leaves behind her children, Andrea (Nicholas) Klein and Donald V. Niswander; four grandchildren, Kaiden, Kara, Madeline and Ruby; sister, Nikoleta Ryder; and niece Tracie Person; brother, Norman Dee (Camille); mother-in-law, Patricia D. Niswander; sisters-in-law, Susan Skarp, Ann (Rob) LaPlaca and Patricia Niswander (Michael Major); brother-in-law, Geoffrey; and many other loving family members and friends. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ethel's honor can be made to the Granite State Children's Alliance, 2 Wellman Ave, Suite 140, Nashua, NH 03064. A celebration of Ethel's life will be held at a later date.
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