WEBSTER - Edythe Jean Brannigan, 88, of Webster, peacefully passed away Saturday morning, May 18, 2013, at Merrimack County Nursing Home of congestive heart failure.
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She was born in New Hampshire on Dec. 7, 1924, to Raymond B. and Edith Lord of Northfield. In their youth, Edythe and her brother, Arthur Lord, eagerly anticipated the outdoor pleasures of country life each summer when they would stay on their Grandfather Lord's farm in Northfield. They spent their summers running through the fields, climbing trees and helping with farm chores. Edythe (also called Jean) would fondly recall those days and count them among the happiest of her early years.
Her grandfather was the famed Claremont cornetist and soloist/bandmaster, Arthur F. Nevers, of the Third Regiment Band and the Nevers Second Regiment Orchestra. Jean was honored in 2005 as a remaining descendant at the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty in Portsmouth.
A naturally-gifted writer and poet, Jean's papers and keepsakes include many journals and scrapbooks that she kept during her years as a teenager and young woman. These show her keen interest in the arts, history, film, politics and story-writing and included her own tender poems that have touched the hearts of so many. Like others in her generation, she was deeply affected by World War II and turned 17 years old on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. She clearly remembered the day when the war with Germany ended - VE Day. She was in Warner at the time and related that everyone poured into the streets and jumped into cars to drive through Warner, sounding their horns and waving in excited celebration. Then, Jean and her friends set off for Concord to drive up and down Main Street, rejoicing long into the night.
Jean enjoyed the old by-ways of her own corner of New Hampshire - driving the back-roads from Webster to Concord or Franklin and Tilton well into her eighties. A passionate lover and protector of all animals and birds, she also had a remarkable green thumb when it came to reviving plants that others had left for dead. She enjoyed all flowers and plants and when buying groceries, would often add some fresh flowers to her purchases, declaring: "The groceries are for my body, but the flowers are for my soul." She liked the fragrance of sun-dried sheets and pinning up her laundry outside on the line in her bare feet, and she always looked younger than she actually was.
Over the years, she loved to travel, making trips to Hawaii, California and Washington state to visit her daughters, as well as taking family excursions, camping, swimming and fishing throughout the local area. Many family and holiday celebrations were held at her home in Webster. Ever quick to pick flowers by the roadside or entertain people with a show tune or vintage song, Jean once traded Shakespearean passages with another woman in her eighties, quote for quote. She could hold her own when it came to the Bard. She could recite John Greenleaf Whittier, Alfred Lloyd Tennyson, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. She knew all the words to Elvis's Blue Hawaii, and her oft-requested song was, appropriately, "Body and Soul." She really loved the music of Frank Sinatra and George Strait.
Jean went to Hopkinton High School, and attended Keene State Teachers College for one year before she married Lawrence L. Boynton Sr. and moved to Bog Road in the Fisherville Road area. She was employed as a waitress at Lung Hing Chinese Restaurant, later was a Unit Secretary at Concord Hospital from 1960 to 1993 and Jean also worked at the Concord Walmart's jewelry department well into her seventies. Jean married twice, and with her second husband, Donald F. Brannigan, eventually moved to Webster where she put down her roots, planted her lilacs and forsythia and developed long-time friendships. A busy mother and homemaker, she still found time for activities such as performing in a New London summer-stock theater production. She authored numerous short plays which she produced and directed as fundraisers for her church. Jean sang in the choir at the First Congregational Church of Webster, she served as church secretary and as their "Sunshine Lady," sending out Get Well and Sympathy sentiments in her beautiful handwriting.
She was active in her community in other ways, including volunteering for the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, New Hampshire Circle of Home and Family, the Rebekahs, The Webster Women's Union, and she penned a popular, monthly column for the Webster Grapevine up until a few weeks prior to her death. She also co-authored (with her daughters, Fay and Gina) a self-published book, Return to Rosewood, an old-fashioned story that is set in Webster and Hillsborough in the early 1900's.
Many have long-enjoyed her droll sense of humor, her spontaneous and fun nature, her sage observations and her faithful friendship. She will be greatly missed. Edythe Jean was a genuine original in every way.
Edythe Jean Brannigan was predeceased by her brother, Arthur Lord; and son, James Patrick Brannigan. Her husband, Donald F. Brannigan, passed away on March 16, 2005.
She is survived by her half-brother, William Lord, and his wife Barbara of Sun City, Ariz.; a step-son, Lawrence L. Boynton Jr. and his wife, Judy, of Mesa, Ariz.; three daughters, Fay Hovey of Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, Virginia Bennett and her husband, Peter, of Goldendale, Wash., and Jean Elizabeth Brannigan. She is also survived by her step-children, Donald C. Brannigan and his wife, Helen, of Webster, Marie E. Jones and her husband, Steven, of Concord, Lola L. Linnane and husband, David, of Salisbury and Cherie Dyment and her husband, Fred, of Concord. Further, she is survived by her grandchildren, Wangdu Hovey of Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, and Jesse Bennett of Paso Robles, Calif., Katherine Ashley of Port Charlotte, Fla., Corinne Brannigan-Remillard of Salisbury, Carlton Brannigan of Webster, Lisa Walker of Salisbury, Kimberly Murdoch and Ryan Jones of Concord, Joshua L Linnane of Weare, Rebecca Garland and her husband, Joel, of Boscawen, and Emily and Andrew Dyment of Concord. In addition, she is survived by her 13 great-grandchildren: Katherine, Madilyn and Ella Ashley, Elizabeth Brannigan, Hannah and Travis Pendleton, Lydia Brannigan, Isaac, Noah and Isabel Walker, Grace and Charlie Murdoch Roy, and newest member of the family, Wailana Hovey.
A memorial service will be held Friday, June 14, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Webster, 1013 Long St., Webster. Pastor David Pearson officiating.
Interment of Ashes to follow memorial service at Corser Hill Cemetery, Allen Road, Webster.
A potluck supper with a time of sharing will be held Friday, June 14, at 4:30 p.m. at the Webster Town Hall, 945 Battle St., Webster.
Memorial donations will go to the fund for a new church steeple for the First Congregational Church of Webster per Edythe Jean's request.
Thank you to the NH Cremation Society in Boscawen and Webster Congregational Church, Dr. Randy Hayes, the Franklin Visiting Nurses Association, Merrimack County Nursing Home and Concord Hospital. Sincere appreciation to all those in the community who contributed to Edythe Jean's well-being and happiness, especially during these last two years when she was greatly challenged by a progressively worsening illness. Thanks also to the kind folks who have adopted her beloved pets. She must be very comforted knowing this.
With pleasure and pain, we've come our way,
Wiser and sadder, patient and gladder
To this perfectly beautiful day in May.
From the poem, "A Day in May," 1976
by Edythe J. Brannigan
Published in The Concord Monitor on May 22, 2013