Obituary of Norman Louis Grandmaison

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Norman Louis Grandmaison

July 10, 1929 - August 30, 2008

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 2, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Norman Louis Grandmaison

HAMPTON, New Hampshire -- Prominent hotelier, Norman Louis Grandmaison, 79, of Hampton, New Hampshire and Fort Lauderdale, Florida passed away peacefully, with his loving wife Joyce by his side, at Hyder Hospice House in Dover, New Hampshire, early Saturday morning, August 30, 2008.

Norman was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on July 10, 1929, the son of the late Fred J. and Agnes M. (Duchesneau) Grandmaison. Growing up on Hampton Beach, he worked alongside his father and uncle who owned the "Diamond C Market," a favorite local grocery store and bakery. He was a graduate of Mount Assumption Preparatory School in Plattsburgh, New York, Class of 1947, and later advanced his studies at the University of New Hampshire. In 1951, Norman enlisted in the United States Army, serving his country in the Korean Conflict, and was the proud recipient of three Bronze Stars.

Upon returning to the New Hampshire Seacoast, Norman soon found his business-niche on his familiar Hampton Beach. Together with his late brother Paul, Norman purchased the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel building, a prominent facility that still thrives today. A half century saw the Ashworth welcome heads of state, members of the clergy, numerous national politicians, and state-wide officials. The Ashworth served as a pied-à-terre for the Hampton Beach summer lineup, a who's who of celebrities, entertainers and musicians. Perhaps the guests that Norman enjoyed most of all were the yearly regulars. These were the people that breathed life into the hotel and gave it both charm and history. Norman's kind, gentle demeanor and understated presence made his hotel a home. A family affair, Paul's son John joined the partnership in 1975. The three worked in tandem until Paul's death in 1986. Together with their wives, Norman and John managed the Seacoast landmark until its sale in May 2006, book-ending some 50 years of family ownership and happy memories of hospitality and friendship.

In 1976, Norman and Paul were instrumental in purchasing the Hampton Beach Casino. Norman and John, together with their business partners, continue ownership of the complex that is Hampton Beach's main attraction a venue for such excitement as: the Casino Ballroom, numerous food concessions, gift shops, amusements and a penny arcade.

A communicant of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Hampton, Norman was a former director of the Hampton National Bank and the Hampton Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, and active with countless civic groups and philanthropic organizations about the New Hampshire Seacoast. An avid golfer, Norman was a longtime member of the Abenaqui Country Club in Rye Beach, a haven for his favorite pastime.

Norman and Joyce shared a life of love and laughter, complimenting one another beautifully. Ever the consummate gentleman, Norman was an unassuming and kind presence, while Joyce was forever devoted, infusing a dynamic vitality and energy. Protective of one another, they treasured their privacy, yet nonetheless reveled in the company of their many friends, family members and hotel staff and patrons. It was not uncommon to see Joyce and Norman sitting in the Ashworth lounge after a long day, enjoying one another's company and watching the world go by. Cheers, dear Norman: To a life well lived.

He is survived by his devoted wife, Joyce (Wesson) of Hampton, New Hampshire; his beloved daughter, Linda G. (Mrs. T. Scott) Vivona and their son, Alexander S., of Davis, California. Norman is further survived by his nephews, John P. and his wife Patricia B. "Pat" Grandmaison of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Bart Crowe of Santa Rosa, California. He leaves further nieces, nephews, grandnieces and numerous dear friends.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Theresa of Lisieux Church, 820 Central Road, Rye Beach, New Hampshire, on Thursday morning, September 4, 2008, at 10 a.m.

Family and friends are invited to call to the Robert K. Gray Jr. Funeral Home, 24 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m.

Interment in the family lot in High Street Cemetery, Hampton, New Hampshire, will immediately follow his funeral Mass.

In his memory, contributions may be directed to Rockingham VNA and Hospice, 137 Epping Road, Exeter, NH 03833.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Robert K. Gray Jr. Funeral Home, 24 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton, NH 03842.

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Hampton Says Farewell to Former Ashworth by the Sea Owner Norman L. Grandmaison

Former Ashworth Owner Dies at 79

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 2, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- The Seacoast is remembering and honoring a Hampton Beach icon, Norman Louis Grandmaison.

Grandmaison, 79, former owner of the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel, died Saturday, Aug. 30.

Norman and his brother Paul bought the Ashworth in 1953 and through decades of ownership, oversaw the expansion of the hotel and introduced alcohol to the menu. The family sold the hotel in May 2006.

"He grew up in Hampton and Hampton Beach, he had a great love for the community," said nephew and business partner John Grandmaison. "He always tried to optimize the future and do his best for the beach. He supported projects down there, he was a cheerleader for various people there. He was known for his sense of humor and always addressing everything with a positive outlook."

Grandmaison was honored by the Hampton Beach Village District in 2007.

"He touched a lot of people's lives here at the beach," said Commission Chairman Gary Kubick.

"He and I go back many years, we were friends," said B.J. "Doc" Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. "Norman was truly an icon in the community. He was instrumental in getting beer licenses on the beach many years ago. He was truly a Hampton Beach stalwart in every sense of the word."

Grandmaison, with two other Hampton Beach icons, Robert Preston, and Fred Schaake Sr., once worked in adjacent businesses along Ocean Boulevard.

Grandmaison, a Navy veteran just back from the Korean War, became a desk clerk at the Ashworth; Schaake ran a dry-cleaning business, and Preston had a take-out hot dog stand.

"Going way back, the three of us were there," said Preston. "We never outgrew the beach, it was one of those things."

Schaake and Grandmaison were partners in the ownership of the Hampton Beach Casino.

"I've known Norman for many years," said Schaake. "We've been close over the years, the three of us, Bob Preston, Norm and myself."

He had a lot of people work for him over the years. One of those was Julie Leonard, who now manages the Hampton chamber beach office.

"I started work as a waitress for him from 1969 to 1974," Leonard said. "Very few people today go table to table (as he did). His customers were extremely important to him. He was a gentlemen in the pure sense of the word. He was trying to make Hampton year round; he took a chance on Hampton."

Paul and Norman Grandmaison operated the Ashworth as a seasonal business until 1969, when they opened it year-round. It was the same year a Hampton zoning variance finally permitted the sale of alcoholic beverages at the beach.

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