Oliver R. Fifield

Obituary
10 entries
  • "He was a great man and friend. He will be missed. So sorry..."
    - John Pratt
  • "My folks, Ray and Claire Ramsay, if alive, would certainly..."
  • "My condolences to the entire family. You're all in my..."
    - Michelle Landry
  • "We were privileged to know Ollie, such a kind man and dear..."
    - Peter and Dianne Goodwin
  • "He will be missed greatly!"
    - Paul & Barbara Raymond
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CANTERBURY - Oliver Roland Fifield was born Oct. 19, 1926, at home to Roland Oliver Fifield and Margaret Smith Fifield in Penacook, the oldest of siblings, Stuart, Hugh, Margaret (Peggy), David, and Jon. They were a lively crew and it was livelier as they grew older. Oliver attended schools in Penacook. He and his brother, Stuart, played every sport in school. With the effects of the Depression, at the age of 11 and 12, Olly and Stuart went to work on the farm of John Morrill. Through high school, Olly had a weekly magazine route and regular customers at Beede manufacturing.

The day of graduation, as president of his senior class of 19 students in 1944, Olly and a group of friends enlisted in the Army. He was not allowed to enlist because of his age, and his mother would not sign for him. He worked for the summer in the Penacook tanneries, where the men told him to go to college. He enrolled at UNH in electrical engineering, and within a year he was drafted into the Army and sent to the Philippines and South Korea. In South Korea, he was assigned a driver. They drove a jeep throughout Korea, working to re-establish the lines of communication recently abandoned by the Japanese occupation.

After receiving an honorable discharge, Olly returned to New Hampshire, determined to farm. He returned to UNH under the G.I. Bill, graduating with a degree in agriculture and business. At the university, he made friends of professors and classmates, that he held close for his lifetime. Always looking for opportunities and developing a keen business sense, he was able to finance and purchase a large tract of land in Canterbury, to become his future home and legacy.

In 1950, he married Mary Ellen Fife (d. 2013) of Canterbury, a recent graduate of Keene State College. Oliver was known and valued in Canterbury for at least 67 years of shared wisdom, creative ideas and solutions, and tireless work, along with Mary Ellen, in his voluntary service to the Town of Canterbury and the Canterbury Community Church. He served as Selectman, Town Moderator for 23 years, on many, many boards and committees, as 4-H leader, Sunday School teacher, Church deacon and committee member. He promoted and worked tirelessly for the annual success of the Canterbury Fair for 60 or more years. He was one of the founding fathers of the Aukee Ski Club in Canterbury. For 20 years, Olly planned and hosted the annual Ice Cutting parties at his pond, for whoever brought a smile, warm clothes, and hotdogs.

In 1954, although failing the initial Blue Cross-Blue Shield employment test, Walter Comee, a friend from Canterbury whom Olly had served with on town committees, and as a selectman, insisted he be hired. Olly made himself a valued employee over the next decade, and became President in 1968. When he retired in 1985, the company had grown to 1,200 employees. He said he never expected to stay more than a year or so. It was a time of growth for the company and considered a good place to work. A quote from the employees organization states, ""Oliver Fifield was the president of the Company and I'd never have thought to call him anything other than ""Mr. Fifield."" He had earned that respect and if you found yourself on the elevator with him, he knew your name, what department you worked in and always personalized a conversation. He knew his employees and set an example, as did most of the management personnel.""

Olly's leadership, friendliness, and growing visibility in Concord and around the state opened doors to opportunities and friends across the country. He was proud to have served on the Concord Savings Bank Board of Directors for many years, a member of the Snowshoe Club, the National Board of Blue Cross Blue Shield, and other Boards and committees, both civic, state and political. Although a traditional Republican, he served for a time on an advisory council to then-President Jimmy Carter.

Olly continued to serve Canterbury and the community church after his retirement. He served on the Shaker Village Board, met monthly with the Wisemen, and was widely available to individuals and organizations. He and Mary Ellen spent many happy times with family, friends, and together, at the Pond and Birdwatcher on Welch Road. Together they traveled to beautiful gardens throughout the country and visited family and friends everywhere. This past September was the third year he planned and hosted the Barn Dance in the barn of his home on Welch Road, and he was in planning for the fourth dance, which will be held in September 2017. This past November, Olly attended the Canterbury youth Thanksgiving Dinner. Olly remarked that he had the best time in a year. Olly could always be seen with his yellow pad of paper of To-Do lists, ideas, and projects, to benefit his home, the community, or other people.

Olly died quietly and peacefully, on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at about 1 p.m. He died as he enjoyed living, surrounded by his family, telling stories and swapping humorous anecdotes. Hours before, there had been a sharing of hymns and songs. He joined in with ""The Old Rugged Cross"", a family favorite.

He was predeceased by his parents, Margaret Smith and Roland Fifield, and parents-in-law Mary Glines and Clarence Fife; his wife of 63 years, Mary Ellen Fife Fifield; his brothers, Stuart, David, and Jon; sister Margaret (Peggy) Fifield Fife; and sister-in-law Dolores Pease Fifield.

Olly is survived by his brother, Hugh; sisters-in-law Ann Fife Fifield and Deborah Lacey Fifield; sister-in-law Ruth and Wayne Mann; brother–in-law Peter and Valerie Fife. Olly leaves his children and their spouses, Naomi and David Scanlon, Ann and Jay Berry, Janet and John Valdez, Stephen and Betty Ladd Fifield, Abigail and David Ladd. He also leaves 14 favorite and unique grandchildren, nine promising and darling great-grandchildren, equally valued nieces and nephews, and a friend since high school, Ruth West.
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SERVICES: A service will be held at Canterbury Community Church and Parish House, Saturday, March 11, at 2 p.m. The family is requesting submission of written anecdotes, thoughts and remembrances, prior to the service for assembly in a book. Submittals may be mailed to Canterbury Hall, 353 Baptist Rd., Canterbury, or emailed to [email protected]. There is also opportunity for oral sharing at the reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Canterbury United Community Church.

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Funeral Home
Wendell J. Butt Funeral Home
42 Washington Street
Penacook, NH 03303
(603) 753-4991
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Published in Union Leader on Mar. 7, 2017
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