Hanover, N.H. — Laura P. Dow, (née Charewicz), 96, wife of the late Harry L. Dow and long-time resident of Hanover, died at her home on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. She will be remembered for her buoyant and energetic personality, love for family, and uplifting smile for everyone. She was a remarkable person.
Laura and Harry settled in Hanover as newlyweds in 1946, and Laura quickly became an active member of the community and St. Denis Parish. After the birth of three sons (the fourth arrived a decade later) Laura served as a Cub Scouts Den Mother, president of the Child Study Group, president of the Parent-Teachers Association, secretary in the HHS guidance office, and clerk of the Hanover School District. She was head supervisor of the voter registration checklist, tutored in the Adult Tutorial Program, and served as Grand Regent of the Catholic Daughters. The Dows were also an ABC (“A Better Chance”) host family for inner city students who spent a year at HHS. One of Laura’s favorite positions was director of the Hanover Teen Canteen, a Saturday night social program for Hanover High School students, a role for which she is still fondly remembered by many Hanover students who were teenagers in the 1960s.
Laura was also an employee of the Dartmouth College Athletic Council for 18 years where she served as beloved secretary for the coaches of numerous intercollegiate sports. Upon her retirement, she was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams, and the 1985 Dartmouth Relays were dedicated in her honor.
She continued to volunteer, becoming involved in the Hanover Lions Club Boat Show as well as the Audrey Prouty Cancer Bike Ride (she herself was a breast cancer survivor of over 40 years); she also worked in the ILEAD (Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth) office and was a hostess at Webster House for the Hanover Historical Society.
One of Laura’s most wonderful qualities was her ability to connect with and befriend countless people of all ages, regardless of station or circumstance, and her special care and concern to spend time with those who were ill or lonely, which she did all her life. She made and kept innumerable friendships. For many years, she was also a volunteer visitor at the Hanover Terrace healthcare facility and the Upper Valley Hostel, eventually becoming president of its Board of Directors. Her generosity with her time and her upbeat attitude and cheerful sincerity brightened untold lives.
Laura made the most of living in a town that provided endless opportunities for activities, new ideas and experiences. She loved going to performances, exhibitions, and lectures at the Hopkins Center and she went regardless of whether she could find anyone to accompany her. Laura was an avid and lifelong sportswoman. At five feet tall, she was captain of her high school basketball team. She skated and swam. Her sons and husband found her to be a very competitive ping-pong player for decades. She enjoyed tennis and skiing well into her eighties. She played her best golf in her seventies and was still at it in her nineties. In her seventies she could do 20 perfect standard push-ups. For almost her entire life, she was a picture of athleticism and excellent health.
There was nothing, however, that Laura loved more or was more dedicated to than being a mother. She was a tremendously devoted and supportive mother to her four sons, always involved and engaged, virtually never missing any sporting event or other activity they were involved in.
Her family meant everything to her, and she was able to share many happy retirement years with her loving husband of 62 years until his death in 2009. They played bridge on a regular basis and traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe. They loved to dance together and did so at every opportunity, as they had from their earliest dating days.
Laura and Harry had started dating in 1938, but their relationship was forced to withstand a complete separation of more than three years while Harry was stationed with the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. In 1943, Laura was named “Miss Kiwanis” in her home town of Lawrence, Mass., having been voted “the city’s most popular young woman,” and sent Harry a photograph. Upon receiving the picture and the news, Harry’s unit of the famous “Jolly Rogers” named one of its B-24 heavy bombers “Miss Kiwanis” after her and had her likeness painted upon the fuselage as the bomber’s “nose art.” Not long after Harry returned home, they were married. Harry never tired of telling her he was the luckiest man in the world to have her as his wife.
Laura Dow will be remembered by her family—and likely many, many others—as a wonderful wife, mother, sister, and friend; a role model for how to make a difference, how to make a little part of the world better, how to live a good life.
Laura was predeceased by her husband, Harry; her sisters, Wanda Lee and Mary Jarosz, and her brother, Joseph Charewicz. She is survived by her four sons, Alan (Karol) of Connecticut, Robert of Hanover, Larry (Tina) of Connecticut, and Kenneth (Betsy) of New York; four grandchildren, Taylor Dow, Emily (Dow) Yates, Ellie and Clara Dow; two great-grandchildren, Sutton and Teddy Yates; one brother, James Charewicz (Bea) of Massachusetts; and several nieces and nephews.
There will be a Memorial Mass at St. Denis Church on Saturday, May 6, at 1 p.m. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Helping Hands of St. Denis Parish, 8 Sanborn Road, Hanover, NH 03755. Funeral arrangements are through Rand-Wilson Funeral Home, Hanover.