June 22, 1940 to October 8, 2020
PORTSMOUTH - Charles Lassen, born in Oxford, England on June 22, 1940, died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Having been a successful electronics engineer and entrepreneur in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, Charles was driven into Portsmouth, under press of weather, in the early 2000's, while sailing on his 37-foot yacht, on which he had previously transited the North Atlantic. Charles decided there and then that Portsmouth would be the place where he'd make his next home.
Charles purchased a house on Salter Street in the South End, renovated it not once but twice, and moved in with his wife Susan (Sooky). Several years later, he and Sooky purchased Round Island, on which stood a house, reputedly once a brothel, in sad repair. With much imagination, determination and fortitude, Charles renovated the house on Round Island, transforming it into an oasis of elegance and charm a stone's throw from Portsmouth's South End. Among other innovations, Charles was the first Portsmouth resident approved to install solar panels, which he mounted on the house to use for heating the rainwater he collected. He also designed and built a ferry for the short trip between the island and Geno's dock or the South End Yacht Club, complete with bell and search light.
Charles contributed greatly to the Portsmouth community during his nearly 20 years as a resident. He served as President of the Friends of the South End (FOSE), and presided over the inaugural Fairy House Tour, which became an annual much beloved event. In 2010 he established the Round Island Regatta, a somewhat chaotic but extremely enjoyable series of races for all manner of small craft powered by sail or human muscle. Regatta proceeds were always donated to charity. He spearheaded the funding for the conversion of several then defunct houses in Strawbery Banke into offices and residences. He served as President Emeritus of the Friends of Prescott Park in its efforts to raise money for a statue to commemorate Michael Warhurst, the Park Superintendent for many years. He also served as one of the Cooperators of the Piscataqua Savings Bank and as a trustee of the Portsmouth Historical Society, was a member of the Portsmouth Atheneum, and was a source of advice and support for many Portsmouth residents, including those who, like him, came from elsewhere to make Portsmouth their home.
Charles had a keen sense of humor, tempered with a unique toughness and energy, that endeared him to others. He has been a fixture of Portsmouth and its waterfront since he moved here, and will be sadly missed by his wife Sooky, his sons Alexander and Hugh, his daughter Louise, his daughter-in-law Jenny, his son-in-law Tony, his brother Richard, his grandchildren Ruth, Alan and Oliver, and his many friends.
A private service will be held for family only. A celebration of Charles' life will be planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Gundalow Company, (sponsors of the Round Island Regatta), 60 Marcy St, Portsmouth NH 03801, www.gundalow.org