Howard C. Atherton, 94, of Rowe Ave., Keene, died Monday morning in the comfort of his home following a period of declining health, with his daughter and caregiver Pat at his side.
He was born on October 9, 1917 in Essex Junction, VT, the son of James F. and Mary E. (Flynn) Atherton. He grew up in Essex Junction and attended area schools. After leaving school he joined the United States Army in 1939 and worked his way up the ranks to become a Master Sargeant (E-7). He served with the Field Artillary in the European Campaign during World War II as well as Korea. During WWII he saved the lives of two Dutch girls and became lifelong friends with their family. In 1957, he and his family moved to Keene, where he continued his service as a National Guard Advisor until his honorable discharge in June of 1962 at Fort Carson, CO.
On April 18, 1942 he married Emma M. Bennett in Colchester, VT. As a serviceman, he & his family lived in Germany, and several other areas of the US, finally settling in Cheshire County in 1957.
He worked at Sears & Roebuck in Keene and retired after 20 years. He then worked for the former Sun Foods and drove and shuttled cars for many local car dealerships, such as Walier Chevrolet, Bailey Ford and most recently for Fairfield Motors. He also provided personal driving service for local families to airports and Florida as well as being the custodian for the local Masonic Temple when it was on West St. in Keene.
Mr. Atherton was a 32nd Degree Mason and very active in both the Masonic and Shriners Organizations. He was a member of: Jerusalem Lodge #104 where he served as Marshall of the lodge for 26 years, Ethan Allen Lodge # 72 in Essex Junction, VT, St. Pauls Lodge # 30 in Langdon, NH as a Life Member, the Scottish Rite Body in Burlington, VT., and was President of the Cheshire Shrine Club – Bektash Temple AAONMS. He belonged to the Burlington, VT Post # 916 ELKS Club, and also was a Life Member of both the Granville, NY Veterans of Foreign War Post # 1653, where he was Chaplin, and the Gordon- Bissell American Legion Post # 4 here in Keene.
For years he was an avid fisherman, hunter and loved stock car racing. He was a Boston Red Sox fan and spent many evenings watching games with his son-in-law Jim Wright. In the past 8 years he enjoyed traveling with his daughter & caregiver Pat with a group from Granville, NY to Washington, DC, Niagara Fall, Nova Scotia, Civil War Battlefields, the Amish country in PA & OH., as well as many trips to visit family in VT. His daughter Carol lived with him for 4 years during which time they enjoyed the Red Sox, swapped stories of life and history. Together they spent hours cultivating flower gardens which he continued as long as he was able.
He is survived by his three daughters and their spouses: Patricia A. Wright and husband James W. Wright, Jr of Keene, Carol L. Huften and husband Bob of Winchester, and Jennifer S. Thompson and husband James of Westport; 12 grandchildren: Lee Ann Willette and husband Chuck of Roxbury, Heidi Amlaw and partner Greg Cutler of Essex Jct., VT., Bernard 'Sparky' Amlaw and wife Amy of W. Swanzey, Angelique Wright and her husband Christopher Heatley of Troy, NY., Michele Wright and fiancé Steve Gunseth of Surry, Glenn Wright and wife Amy of Keene who maintained his property & were secondary caregivers, Deborah Valliere and husband James of Keene, Sarah Bomba and husband Michael of Hinsdale, Nathan Day and wife Jennifer of W. Swanzey, Jeffery Thompson of Winchester and Michele Thompson of Westport; 17 Great Grandchildren: Faith, Renee, Morgan, Mykayla, Nicholas, Hannah, Zeb, William, James, Chase, Emma, Jenna, Kirsten, Jacob, Lucas, Mackenzie, Madison; one Great Great Grandchild Alexis; two sister-in-law's: June Atherton of Grand Isle, VT., and Alice Bennett of Shelburne, VT., as well as several nieces and nephews.
In his final days he was comforted by touching & talking to his faithful companion, his cat Ish (Ishkabiddle) and being surrounded by his family.
He was predeceased by his wife, of 50 years, Emma M. Atherton; a daughter Myrna D. Turcotte; a grandson Charles 'Chuck' Turcotte; two brothers, James and Sanford; and three sisters, Florence, Virginia and Elsie.
Calling hours will be Monday evening from 6:00 – 8:00 at the Fletcher Funeral Home, 33 Marlboro St, Keene. Funeral Services will be at the Funeral Home on Tuesday at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow in the Monadnock View Cemetery in Keene.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Memorial Donations be made in Mr. Howard C. Atherton's name to either the Shriners Hospital For Children - Boston, (www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/), 51 Blossom St., Boston, MA 02114 or to Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services (www.hcsservices.org), 312 Marlboro St., Keene, NH 03431.
Fletcher Funeral Home & Cremation Services (www.fletcherfuneralhome.com), 33 Marlboro St., Keene, NH 03431 is in charge of the arrangements.