HANOVER - Brian Forrest Walsh, 74, died unexpectedly on July 3, 2018, riding his bike along the NH seacoast. He had stopped at his favorite bench and was gazing at the sea during his final moments.
Brian was born on January 22, 1944, grew up in Winchester, MA and spent the summers of his youth on Lake Sunapee, NH. Brian graduated from Northfield Mt. Hermon prep school, and continued to Dartmouth College, where he completed his undergraduate degree in 1965. During his time at Dartmouth, he was named an All-American lacrosse goalie, and later he completed his advanced degree at Thayer School of Engineering in 1966. He ultimately completed his Master of Science at Columbia University in 1968. Brian was a consummate learner whose thoughtful knowledge amazed us all.
Brian is preceded in death by his parents Barbara and Thomas Walsh and two sisters, Carol Louise Wright and Sarah Walsh. He is survived by his children: Leila Walsh and her partner Wes, Michael Walsh and his wife Hannah, as well as his three stepdaughters and their families: Amy and Ben McLaughlin, Emily and Aaron Doe, and Gretchen and Timothy McLaughlin. He is also survived by many additional family members including his niece Maryn and her husband Keith Barrett, his nephew Graham and his wife Kelly Wright, and many grand nieces and nephews. Brian was known as Papa Wa to his beloved grandchildren, Anderson, Wyatt, Morgan, Carter, Nelson, Alice and James.
Brian and Linda Patchett fell deeply in love in 1987. Between two engaging careers and a blended family of 5 children, at times the ride was a challenge. However, it was their love, respect, and mutual appreciation of each other's qualities that sustained them.
Brian had a string of successful business ventures during his career. And, as every entrepreneur would tell you, it was his failures that shaped his growth more than anything. He was an intense, value-driven man with extraordinary leadership skills. Many would follow Brian as he explored new visions and endeavors. Brian was the founder and original CEO of three technology start-ups: Creare Innovations; Creonics, a robotics company; and Spectra Inc., a breakthrough ink-jet printer technology company, now known as FujiFilm Dimatix.
As Brian transitioned away from his business career and explored his personal interests further he began by introducing Linda to his love of sailing in 2004. They purchased their beautiful sailboat, christened SeaScapes, so-called for his love of sailing and his passion for painting New England landscapes. Brian spent many solo trips adroitly handling the 44-foot sailboat up the coast of Maine, which he found incredibly exhilarating. Linda and Brian loved their time on the boat, beginning each morning with their coffee, followed by a quiet day at sea and wrapping up with breathtaking sunsets along the coast.
Brian was a committed public servant and dedicated hours to various organizations to form shared visions and craft strategies, to build stronger communities.
Brian was not boastful, and he preferred to listen intently, often while sketching, until he felt it was time to influence. When he did speak, it was frequently a simple statement or question with a profound impact. Many local, state and national non-profit agencies benefited from his wisdom, including the Town of Hanover Planning Board, where he served the public as the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen for 12 years. The concrete manifestations of his involvement included relocating the Hanover Middle School to reduce the crowding in the school system, convincing constituents that Mary Hitchcock Hospital belonged on a larger footprint so it could grow into a first-class medical center, and creating the rowing dock at Wilson's Landing to accommodate the Upper Valley crew teams, to name a few.
Other organizations that benefited from Brian's thoughtful vision and leadership include Americans for Campaign Reform, the Upper Valley Land Trust, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Vital Communities, New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies and RiverWoods Exeter, where he served as a board member.
Over the last couple of years, Brian was focusing on doing the things he loved, and assuming less responsibility for "shaping the world." He frequently spoke of letting go and finding joy and exhilaration in exploring. Those who knew him well knew he was on his journey to find the "real me" versus the "responsible me." As it were, Brian cherished his time with his family and friends, and it was not uncommon to have lively, meaningful conversations where deep values and heartfelt notions were shared. Brian and Linda hosted their last dinner party with their beloved Solstice Group on July 1. The question of the evening was, "What lesson in your life has taken you the longest to learn?" Brian responded with, "I am okay as to who I am and what I do. I don't have the responsibility to change anything."
Brian was also a very spiritual man; the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College was his formal place of worship, yet it was on the sea, doing yoga, hiking, biking, and in quiet evenings at home that he found his true soul. His most powerful form of relaxation was in watercolor painting and sketching. He was an accomplished painter, showing his work in Boston, Paris and all over the Upper Valley. His art reflected his love of the outdoors, the magical colors in nature and the calm of New England's landscapes.
SERVICES: A celebration of Brian's life will take place overlooking the sea. The remembrance service will begin at 3:30 p.m. on September 9 at the Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, in Rye, NH.
In lieu of flowers please consider Brian's philosophy. As a landscape watercolorist and a human being, the health of the earth was his greatest concern. Consider donating to a non-profit organization working to protect the environment.
Published in Union Leader on Jul. 16, 2018.