CONCORD, N.H. - Don Crandlemire embodied many qualities - integrity, humor, and wit among them. He was a devoted father, husband, son and brother; a friend to many; a lifelong learner, who worked hard at everything he did; an outdoor enthusiast, who carried with him a love of nature from his childhood in Maine; and a respected professional in the legal community. Don focused on many pursuits throughout his 49 years, but the most important endeavor of his adult life was as dedicated father to his two boys.
Don died of a sudden heart attack at his home in Concord, N.H., on Saturday, March 5, 2016, leaving his wife of 19 years, Jennifer Frizzell, and his sons, Ethan (14) and Evan (11) - the greatest joys of his life.
Born in Andover, Mass., on September 3, 1966, Don was the youngest of four children and only son of Donald C. and Marilyn Crandlemire. When Don was a toddler, the family moved down east to Machias, Maine, returning to the hometown of his father. Don and his sisters grew up in Machias, where he attended the local schools, including a year spent with his mother as his first-grade teacher. Don graduated from Machias Memorial High School in 1984 and began his post-secondary education at the University of Maine at Orono, and following in his father's footsteps, earned a B.S. in civil engineering (1989). Don went on to earn his J.D. in 1993 from Franklin Pierce Law Center (now UNH School of Law). It was there, in 1991, that Don met his future wife, Jennifer. The couple married on September 14, 1996, and lived in Jackson, N.H., and Portsmouth, N.H., before settling in the West End of Concord in a cozy brick house within sight of where they met.
Don and Jennifer welcomed Ethan in 2001 and Evan in 2005. Don reveled in fatherhood, cherishing the big and the small and taking pride in the wonders of his boys' self-discoveries. He was equally adored by his children, with whom he shared his zest for life. He threw his energy behind the boys as they developed a love of ice hockey. Though Don was never a hockey player himself, he embraced the culture of the sport, demonstrating his enthusiasm for supporting whatever his boys loved by eagerly transporting them to countless games as he zigzagged his way to hockey rinks around New England. He was quite proud of the "Crandlemire Rink," a self-crafted ice surface he put up each winter in the family's backyard.
Don often summoned his inner child when interacting with his boys, their friends, and his nine nieces and nephews. Jennifer fondly referred to him as a Pied Piper of sorts. Children of all ages (adults on down) gravitated to him for his mischievous spirit and his attentiveness to their own playful natures. He was the dad who never tired of launching his own delighted children into the pool, only to discover a cadre of kids - often strangers - forming a line behind them. He set a high bar for fatherhood. He was a man who cherished his many and important friendships.
A love of the outdoors was something Don developed during his childhood in Maine. His first partner in exploring nature was his father, Donald, with whom he spent a great deal of time, fishing and enjoying the topography of down east Maine and its many bodies of water. Don built similar memories with Ethan and Evan, whether hiking local mountains, swimming, or pitching baseballs to the boys at the tree-lined park across from their Concord home.
As a professional, Don earned the trust and respect of colleagues and adversaries alike, who admired him for his integrity, tenacity, and humility. Though he was a dedicated advocate for his clients, Don always remained mindful of the importance of fairness and justice. He began his legal career at a small firm in Conway, N.H., and also worked for two Manchester-based firms: Brennan, Caron, Lenehan & Iacopino and Wiggin & Nourie. Don spent four years, from 2004 to 2008, as in-house general counsel at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, where he developed knowledge and expertise in not-for-profit governance and healthcare regulatory issues, while building relationships with members of the medical community. Everywhere Don worked, he accumulated lifelong friends and colleagues.
Don was a cross-trained professional, who added to his degrees in engineering and law by returning to graduate school at the age of 40 and earning his M.B.A. in 2008 from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He completed the part-time executive program in two years, traveling to Chicago every other weekend and squeezing in homework and studying, while maintaining full-time positions as dad, husband, and legal professional. His commitment to learning was one way of showing his boys not to be complacent, and that learning is an enduring endeavor.
Even while his professional plate was full, Don always managed to make time for his family, being there for his kids' ball games and ice times and tucking them in at bedtime. He was a firm supporter of Jennifer's career in nonprofit advocacy and assumed many family responsibilities to support her professional and community efforts. At an early stage in Don and Jennifer's relationship, he committed to building his career in her home state of New Hampshire, so she could accept a dream job with New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Don took pride in his wife's passions and successes, as in those of his children, and one could see that pride on his face when he spoke about his family.
After more than a decade in the legal world, Don felt fortunate to have discovered professional nirvana at the Concord office of the Shaheen and Gordon law firm, beginning in 2009. There he found work with his partners at the firm a vehicle for loyally serving clients, while advancing a shared commitment to the greater good. Don built not only professional connections with his colleagues, but deep friendships that transcended their legal duties. He valued the spirit of collaboration and believed strongly in serving as a mentor for less experienced lawyers. He was generous with his time and knowledge and always a dedicated listener, who conducted himself with good humor and very little ego. Don helped lead the next generation of Shaheen and Gordon attorneys in stewarding the firm into the future.
A devoted member of his community, Don served on the board of trustees of the Healthy New Hampshire (HNH) Foundation from 2010 to 2015. The organization is a statewide advocate and funder for access to healthcare for children. From 2012 to 2015, Don served on the board of Concord Youth Hockey Association, in service to his children's zeal for the sport and the Concord hockey community.
An adventurous soul, Don enjoyed traveling near and far. He relished family time spent on Cape Cod, Squam Lake, and the Maine coast, including the Crandlemires' annual pilgrimage to Ogunquit, with dear family friends. After a meaningful trip to Alaska with his own father in 1993, Don returned to the Land of the Midnight Sun with Jennifer and the boys in 2013.
His sense of humor was a noticeable part of Don's character, and he possessed a rare ability to recognize when that humor was appropriate as a way to diffuse friction in tense situations. He combined a quick wit with a sense of humor that was equal parts raw and intellectual. Don was a positive human being, who shared his contagious brand of optimism with those around him. He was a caring individual, who consciously took the time to inquire about others' lives in support of his extensive community of friends and neighbors.
Don was predeceased in 2012 by his father, Donald C. Crandlemire. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Frizzell; his sons, Ethan and Evan Crandlemire; his mother, Marilyn Crandlemire, and her partner, William Detert; his sisters, Janis, and her husband, Ronald Sacco, Patricia, and her husband, Daniel Whitney, and Donna, and her husband, Duane David; nine nieces and nephews; and many, many friends and colleagues around the globe.
Plans for a memorial service to celebrate Don's life will be announced in the coming weeks. For memorial contributions, the family has designated the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 or via their website www.outdoors.org/tribute, and New Hampshire Legal Assistance, 117 North State St., Concord, NH 03301.