Dean P. Williamson '32
"Mr. University" had a zest for life
When Dean Williamson '32 died on Sept. 22 at age 99 from congestive heart failure, friends and family remembered his energy, vitality and zest for life. Williamson loved people, and he had a gift for communicating how he felt. He was judicious, too, and as a result he was both loved and respected. He kept his old friends and made new ones of all ages. Simple things—lunch with friends, a good story, a well-made chocolate cake—gave him the most pleasure, and he remained young at heart.
He was born in Concord, N.H., a third child and only son. He lived there all his life and became an unofficial town historian because of his prodigious memory. He remembered hearing the cheers downtown celebrating the end of World War I as he lay in bed recovering from the Spanish flu. He remembered that before there were snow plows, the city had rollers that would flatten the snow for horse-drawn sleighs. He remembered that when driving from Concord to Durham, the paved road ended in Northwood and the rest of the way was a one-lane wagon trail through the woods.
When he graduated from high school, he was named the "quietest boy in the class." At UNH he blossomed, and he would later describe his time at the university as "the four happiest consecutive years of my life." He majored in business administration and paid attention to his social life—he belonged to Phi Delta Epsilon, was a head cheerleader and played on the hockey team his senior year. His fraternity was across the street from Alpha Chi Omega, where Helen Daggett '31 was a sister. One day, he saw her crossing the street, her auburn hair shining in the sun, and it was love at first sight. They were married for 61 years and raised a son, Dag, and a daughter, Sarah '67. Helen died in 1994, and every New Year's since, Williamson celebrated in the same way. "I've got my bottle of champagne," he would tell his son, "and I'm drinking a toast to your mother."
After graduation, Williamson went to work as a clerk at Manufacturers and Merchants Mutual Insurance (which later became Phenix Mutual Fire Insurance), the firm where his dad had worked. He retired 44 years later as president of the company. In all his endeavors, Williamson started at the bottom and worked his way up. As a high school student, he worked as an usher at the first movie theater in town, the Capitol Theatre; later, he would be asked to be a trustee when the theater became the Capitol Center for the Arts. Nicknamed "Mr. University," he served UNH in many ways, including eight years on the USNH Board of Trustees, the last two as chair. In 1972, Williamson Hall was named after him, and the Dean Williamson Award is given annually to a student "who demonstrates selfless devotion to others."
Williamson never completely retired—he remained on Phenix's advisory council and continued to be active in alumni affairs, including serving many years as class secretary. He began taking drum lessons at age 92, played tennis until age 96 and passed his driver's test at age 98. On the last day of his life, he had three ounces of Jack Daniels with ginger ale and visited with several friends. "As time goes on, one realizes how important it is to be around people who are positive, enthusiastic and energetic," Dag says. "My dad exemplified that."
Marion McIver Coleman '43
Her unwavering faith in people brought out their best
Marion Coleman '43 was an optimistic, community-minded person who had unwavering faith in people and their ability to do good things for themselves and for others. She put down roots in two communities in her long life and used her skills as a home economist and her organizational talents to strengthen both.
She was born in Newport, Vt., the youngest of three siblings. Her father was an optometrist and her mother a homemaker; the family lived on a dairy farm overlooking Lake Memphremagog. Coleman's interest in nutrition started early because her mother "couldn't boil water," as she explained later, and she learned to cook to feed the family.
Coleman's maternal grandmother lived in Plymouth, N.H., and Coleman spent summers there, swimming in the Baker River. She was a good student, loved music and played the piano. She was also independent. Although her older siblings had attended the University of Vermont, Coleman applied to UNH, where she studied dietetics and loved dancing to the big band orchestras of the era.
After graduation, she married high school sweetheart Charles Buckland; they raised one daughter. While Buckland served in the Army, Coleman worked as a dietician in the milk lab of Boston City Hospital. When the war was over, the Bucklands went back to Newport and bought Bonnie View Farm, which Coleman turned into a bed and breakfast. To earn extra money, she made meals for people in town. "My mom could just look at a recipe and tell if it was going to come out right or not," her daughter, Janet Lucas, says. "But her cooking was about kindness as well. A childhood friend recently told me that my mom made her the first birthday cake she ever had, for her 16th birthday."
In the mid-1950s, Coleman took a job at the University of Vermont as a county extension home economist. She and her four aides visited lowincome families to assess their needs and figure out how to help them. They taught people how to cook, sew curtains, make a closet out of a refrigerator box, and continue their education. "She used to say that the hardest thing we had to do was change people's attitude—if we could do that, then everything else would change," her former aide and friend Barbara Joachim says. "Once we visited people who were living in an abandoned school bus. Marion never saw any situation as hopeless. We brought along a camping stove and taught them how to cook a meal on it."
In 1974, the Bucklands moved to Florida; Charles Buckland died the following year. She married Howard Coleman in 1978, worked as a home economist at the University of Florida, wrote a weekly column for the newspaper and appeared on local TV shows, providing household tips. "She just never stopped," her daughter says.
At the end of her life, she had a stroke after suffering a fall. She died on July 4, one of her favorite holidays, at the age of 89. "Marion had really good intuition about people, and always got the best out of them," says Joachim. "I got my associate degree because of her, and my life changed tremendously because she was my mentor. She never gave up on anybody."
Edward A. Fish '58
A brilliant businessman, he always kept his word
Ed Fish '58 was an old-school Irish gentleman who had a commanding presence, impeccable manners and a brilliant business mind. He always kept his word and was known for his integrity and commitment to developing real estate projects that would make him proud—he once told friends that he never wanted to drive by one of his projects shaking his head over how it had turned out. He died in his sleep on June 15 at the age of 77.
He was born in Dorchester, Mass., into a family of builders; his grandfather Manus Fish started Peabody Construction in the 1890s. Fish was both a gifted student and athlete. He played hockey and football at UNH, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics.
Fish joined the family business after graduation and expanded its general contracting focus to include real estate development and construction and property management for both residential and commercial properties. He founded four companies in his lifetime: EA Fish Associates, Peabody Properties, Suffolk Construction and Dellbrook Construction. Business associates say that he had an uncanny ability to understand and follow through on the multiple facets of any business transaction. A hands-on executive, Fish was involved in every aspect of a project except the design. Gerard Doherty, a friend and longtime attorney, told the Boston Globe he did business with Fish for three decades and "we never had a written agreement between us, and we never had a disagreement in 35 years.''
He specialized in turning old industrial spaces into modern housing, transforming unsavory neighborhoods into vital communities in the process. Many of his most well-known projects are in Boston, including Columbia Point in Dorchester and the Mission Main public housing development. "There are thousands of families, not only in Massachusetts but throughout the country, who have quality affordable housing, thanks to his lifetime of work," Thomas Gleason, executive director of MassHousing, told the Globe. "He was more than a real estate developer 'worrying the financials,'" his friend David A. Smith wrote about him. "Simply put, Ed Fish wanted communities that worked."
Fish was a quiet philanthropist, according to his son John. "He gave very quietly. He had a soft spot for people who didn't have the opportunities he had." Fish was a lifelong supporter of the Archdiocese of Boston, and five years ago he and his wife, Gretchen, funded the Fish Center for Women's Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. In addition to his wife, he is survived by seven children: Karen, Edward, John, Kevin, Melissa, Matthew and Michael. He was predeceased by a daughter, Elizabeth.
At UNH, he served on the UNH Foundation board and in 2008 received the Hubbard Award for service to philanthropy. Fish created an endowed football scholarship fund in 1999 and gave $1 million in 2007 for a new artificial playing surface for the football field. At a UNH Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony on Sept. 25, where Fish was inducted posthumously, his grandson Kevin Will said his grandfather believed in giving back. "He always told me that when you're able to make it, and make it big, help the people who might not necessarily have a chance."
David H. Hinman '72
He loved everything about agrarian life
David Hinman '72 was a strong, athletic person who was fiercely independent, irascible and uncommonly generous. He spent most of his life shearing sheep on farms in the Northeast and relished the physicality, solitude and spiritual satisfaction of agrarian life. He loved hearing the stories that old farmers had to tell, and he valued the old-fashioned way of doing things.
He was born in Plymouth, N.H., the youngest of three children. His parents worked at the Holderness School and the family lived on the grounds. One project was making the ice for the hockey team's rink—the family spent hours flooding and grooming the surface to make it glossy and smooth. Hinman grew up on skates and regretted the day that hockey became an indoor sport. Until a few years ago, he made skating surfaces for friends and family and crafted trophies for backyard games from yard sale finds.
At age 14, he acquired a few Southdown sheep for a 4-H project. He showed them at fairs, and taught himself how to shear them. Once he could drive, he transported his sheep to fairs in his Volkswagen Beetle, sitting them up on their rear ends, with hay strapped to the roof.
He met his wife, Deborah Ohler Hinman '71, on the grounds of Holderness when they were teenagers. She was walking across campus one summer evening, collecting fireflies. It was love at first sight. They married in 1969 and raised three children; they divorced in 2001. After graduating from Holderness, he briefly attended UNH, but he played so much hockey his first semester that he was encouraged to follow other pursuits. He moved to Rochester, N.Y., where he got a job with Kodak and roomed with a Quaker family. Hinman respected their beliefs and they helped him attain conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War; he spent two years driving a bookmobile to small schools in the Kentucky mountains.
Hinman came back to UNH in the late 1960s. He played varsity hockey and got a degree in elementary education. He taught third, fourth and fifth grades for 20 years in three rural New Hampshire school districts, renting farms so he could keep his flock, and shearing on weekends. In 1976, they bought 64 acres in Acworth and moved into a tent with their two babies. A few months later, they finished a 20-foot-by-24-foot home, although it was five years before they would have running water and electricity. "It's the kind of thing you do once," Debby Hinman says.
Hinman was dyslexic and remembered well his own learning difficulties. His teaching approach was unconventional, and he designed his curriculum to meet the needs of different learning styles. He had couches in his classroom, played classical music, and when his kids got tired, they would take a soccer break. When neighbors called the school to say his sheep had gotten out, the class took a field trip.
He retired from teaching in 1992 to shear full time, one of a very few who made his living from it. He had excellent hand-to-eye coordination and a high tolerance for hard physical work, and was efficient; he could shear dozens of sheep in an hour. His fees fluctuated based on his customers. People who were difficult or acted entitled paid more. A single mother with four kids wasn't charged anything—instead, he left her $50.
On June 21, he suffered a heart attack while shearing and died at age 64. "People who work in farming are apt to have a wry attitude, but underlying that is respect for the land, the work and a silent acknowledgement of big spiritual questions," his friend John Nopper says. "There's a line from Archibald MacLeish, 'in league with the stones of eternity.' David was like that."
Benjamin S. Rosenbaum '05
Loyal and generous, he was also emotionally strong
Ben Rosenbaum's maturity, sense of responsibility and wisdom belied his age. He was a hard worker, clear about his priorities and purposeful in reaching his goals. He rarely got angry, had a wry sense of humor and was a loyal and generous friend.
He was born and raised in Acton, Mass., and was passionate about soccer and Boston sports teams. He excelled in science and history. His father, Bob Rosenbaum, says that he was a Type B person in a Type A family. "Ben gave 110 per cent to the things that interested him and avoided the things that didn't. Over the years I started to think, 'Maybe he's got a point.'"
He majored in geography and minored in computer science at UNH. His senior year he interned at Global Relief Technologies in Portsmouth, N.H., a company that helps humanitarian organizations compile and analyze data in real time via handheld devices. He was GRT's first intern, and the company's president, Michael Gray, hired him after graduation. "He did the work of people many years older than he was, and, at times, it felt like he was doing the work of six people," Gray says. "He was a superstar."
Rosenbaum spent many weeks in the jungles of Thailand supporting a military expeditionary medical brigade while they collected and analyzed data on the avian flu, developing the technology to help prepare for a pandemic. "For a guy with no military training, Ben had an extraordinary military bearing," Gray says. "He was thoughtful, sensitive and absolutely committed. And he never folded under pressure. They loved him. And now they use cuttingedge technology instead of paper and pencil because of Ben."
Three years ago, Rosenbaum developed knee pain while jogging. An x-ray revealed a tumor, and it turned out to be cancerous. Surgeons removed a third of his femur and replaced his knee. Once he recovered, he bought a house, met a young woman he really liked and went back to work. But the pain persisted, and doctors found another tumor. This time they recommended that he have his leg amputated. He agreed. "Ben was very strong emotionally and once he made his decision, he didn't look back," his friend Bunty Thakkar '05 says. He was proud of his high-tech prosthetic and wore a T-shirt that read, "I'm only in it for the parking."
But shortly after his surgery, doctors found that the cancer had metastasized to his lung. Rosenbaum participated in new drug trials and went to conferences to talk to medical professionals about his experiences living with cancer. "If I'm not going to beat this, maybe someone else will because I'm here," he told them. He died on May 15, a week before his 27th birthday.
"Ben refused to be ruled by his illness," his father says. "He concentrated on living each day and made it doable for those around him. He was my wise old child and my hero." ~