Hampton Beach Village District Honors Contributors

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1907 -- 100th Anniversary Celebration -- 2007

Hampton Beach Seashell -- August 17, 18, 19, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Maureen Buckley,
Hampton Beach Village Precinct Commissioner]

Village District Logo

Michael O'Neil

Michael O'Neil was born and raised in Keene, New Hampshire and began summering at Hampton Beach as a young child. He married his wife, Carol, in 1963, and they had their only child, Kelly. They purchased their Hampton home in 1971,and in that same year Mike became the Asst. Vice-President of Athletics and Administration at the University of New Hampshire. He remained in that position until 1990. After his retirement from UNH, Mike began working for the New Jersey Devils hockey team as the Vice President of Administration. Although he rented an apartment in New York City, Carol maintained their home in Hampton while she taught in Somersworth. They retired permanently to Hampton Beach in 1993. Thus began Mike's involvement in local politics.

Mike was appointed to the advisory board of Hampton Recreation in the 1990's. He was also a member of the Budget Committee. Soon he became the secretary of the Hampton Beach Precinct. Shortly thereafter Mike was elected to the Precinct Commission where he served for 7 years. During this time, he saw the beginning of the Hampton Beach Sand sculpture Competition, and helped to initiate the Senior Weekend which lasted 3 years.

Mike was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1998. There he sponsored legislation to form a commission for an infrastructure project here on the beach. Thus the Hampton Beach Commission was born. He also sponsored a State Park study in 2005 for the revitalization of the band shell area, and proposed a bill to finance the new fencing along the beach. Today Mike is involved in the Precinct parking on Ashworth Avenue. Michael O'Neil has maintained a long-standing role in the growth and development of Hampton Beach. His contributions to the Hampton Beach Village District have been many and varied. It is with great appreciation that the Hampton Beach Commissioners honor Michael O'Neil.

Fred and Hazel Clews

Fred and Hazel Clews were married in 1944. They resided in Cambridge, MA where they raised three children: Freddie, Jay, and Cathy. Fred owned and operated an upholstery shop in Cambridge, and taught adult education classes in upholstery at Rindge Technical High School.

The Clews family spent their summers at Hampton Beach. Fred soon recognized the need for a furniture and hardware store right on the beach, and in 1952 he opened Clews Furniture Company. Fred and Hazel managed the business for 55 years .with the help of their children and grandchildren. "Buy now, and pay later," was the Clews motto in the early days. Many loyal customers remember how Fred and Hazel helped them to furnish and repair their newly acquired motel or cottage.

Today Clews Furniture Store has grown with Hampton Beach. It is similar to an old-fashioned general store where you can purchase not only furniture but hardware, rugs, and many other necessary items.

Fred Clews was an active part of the Hampton community. He became a call firefighter in 1952. In 1968 he was appointed Captain, and he became Deputy Chief in 1987. Fred served the Hampton Fire Department for 35 years.

Fred and Hazel Clews passed away this year. He was 91, and she was 89. They were married for 63 years. They will long be remembered for their hard work, kindness, and generosity.

The Hampton Beach Village District is proud to honor Fred and Hazel Clews for their contributions to the Hampton Beach community.

Diana (Gagne) LaMontagne

Diana (Gagne) LaMontagne was born in Manchester NH, and she moved to Hampton when she was 3 days old. She has lived here ever since. Her father, Alfred Gagne,was a beach commissioner for 15 years and was active in the Hampton Beach community as well.

On June 17, 1946, Diana married Arthur LaMontagne at St. Patrick's Church and together they raised 4 children: Skip, Rick, Michael and Mary. Diana ran the Bluejay Motel after her marriage and continued to do so for 34 years until her daughter, Mary took it over.

Diana LaMontagne has always been a strong supporter and advocate for Hampton Beach. She worked at the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce for 8 years. She also served as a Precinct Commissioner for 2 ½ years until she was elected as a selectman. She served in that position for 3 years where she believed in bringing the town and beach together. Diana has also been active in community service all of her life. She was president of the Hampton Beach Women's Club for many years. This group assisted the fire department by bringing coffee and donuts to firemen who were actively fighting fires here on the beach. Diana has also been a member of the Stephen Ministries for 10 years. This organization assists the aged and sick members of Hampton and follows them until their passing.

It is our honor tonight to recognize Diana LaMontagne for her ongoing efforts on behalf of the Hampton Beach community, and the Hampton Beach Village District thanks her for her steadfast support.

William "Bill" Elliot

Our next honoree is Mr. Bill Elliot. Bill passed away on January 3rd of this year at the age of 101. Bill was married to his wife Alzena for 77 years and lived in the house that he and his father built. Together they had three children, Wayne, June, and Holly. Bill and Alzena Elliot were active members of the Hampton community. During his lifetime, Bill was the Manager of the State Parks at Hampton Beach, Vice-Chairman of the Budget Committee, Executive Secretary of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, and was appointed by President Eisenhower to the National Committee of Rivers and Harbors.

But Bill will be most fondly remembered by many as the "Singing Cop." A Hampton policeman and special officer, Bill would direct traffic on Ocean Boulevard in front of the Casino. Dressed in full uniform, he would then be summoned to the bandstand to sing in his beautiful baritone voice. After he entertained those assembled, Bill would return to his duties on the street. He appeared at the Casino ballroom as well, where he was often invited to perform with the big bands of the 30's. Bill Elliot won many amateur contests including an appearance on Major Bowe's Original Amateur Hour. In 1938, Bill wrote a book of poems. A quote from one of them was:

At night we gaze from the lovely sand
To see on the shimmering tide
A thousand sparkling diamonds
Making a path to your side.
Shimmering diamonds, as far as the eye can reach
With you and I and the moonbeams
On the sands of Hampton Beach.

Bill Elliot, our own Hampton Beach star. The Hampton Beach Village District is proud to honor him tonight and to present this plaque to his family.

Norman Grandmaison

Norman Grandmaison grew up right here on Hampton Beach. When the Korean War ended, Norman returned from the Navy, and

with his brother, Paul, they purchased the Ashworth Hotel in the early 1950's. The Ashworth was a great deal smaller then, but it was to become Hampton Beach's most famous hotel. In 1971, the Ashworth was granted the first liquor license on Hampton Beach. One evening Norman and his wife, Joyce, were having dinner at the Green Ridge Turkey Farm in Nashua, and they discovered a band called the Continentals. They soon brought them to the Ashworth to perform. Jack Knox and the Continentals played 7 nights a week in the Ashworth Lounge, and people were lined up outside waiting to get in. The band enjoyed a working relationship with Norman for over 30 years.

The Ashworth has hosted past presidents, first ladies, and other dignitaries at Hampton Beach notably President George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Maria Shriver. Many Rotary breakfasts and candidates' nights were held at the Ashworth, and needless to say, the Secret Service became very familiar with the layout of the hotel.

Many celebrities have also stayed at the Ashworth Hotel through the years while they were appearing at the Casino. Norman became friendly with many of them including the Smothers Brothers and the Platters.

When Norman's brother, Paul, retired, Paul son, John became general manager of the Ashworth. The hotel continued to flourish, and Norman maintained active involvement in the business. In 2007, Norman sold the Ashworth Hotel and began a well-deserved retirement.

Today Norman can be found playing cards at the Abernaqui clubhouse, or spending time with his wife, Joyce, his daughter, Linda, and his grandson, Alex.

It is with great appreciation that the Hampton Beach village district honors Norman Grandmaison tonight for his many contributions to Hampton Beach.

Sketch of both sides of the Hampton Beach
Village District's Centennial Coin
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