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Plane Crash Victims Had Ties to N.H.

New Hampton School

Herman Hassinger made his mark in New Hampshire on the campus of the 190-year old New Hampton School.

Spread over the 50 acres is evidence of his architectural ability and understanding of how to mix old with new.

Pilalas: There are some buildings that are well over a hundred years old, and there are some that are one or two years old. But they all fit together wonderfully, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t agree with me.

Jason Pilalas is on the Board of Trustees, and was friends with Hassinger.

Pilalas: His hand prints, his foot prints, are just all over this campus.

Two of Hassinger’s three children attended New Hampton, which sits in the foothills of the White Mountains. The Philadelphia-native told friends that his kids had a transformational experience, and he felt he owed the private high school a debt of gratitude. To help pay off that debt, he designed a number of buildings and served on the Board of Trustees for more than 30 years.

Pilalas: So when people thought of him as irascible, I would just kind of sweep my arm across the campus, and say it looks pretty nice to me.

Before retirement, Hassinger ran an architectural firm in New Jersey. His expertise was in restoring Lutheran churches.

You can see that influence in the Academic Research Center, which houses the school’s library and computer lab. Half-rounded windows and a steep pitch roof…streams of natural light illuminating the stacks.

The building is elegant, but not pretentious.

Pilalas: We are kind of 'Yankee tight' with our dollars, and Herman grasped that completely.

Pilalas says that at 83 years old, his friend was slowing down, working only on projects that interested him. And he was still a bit of a curmudgeon.

Pilalas: I’ll tell ya a funny story about him. He had a weekend house, which after he retired became his main house on Block Island. As you probably know Block Island is overrun with tourists in the summer. And the people who live there full time put up with this. But on Labor Day a couple years ago, Herman hired a plane to fly around the island towing a banner that read, ‘It’s Over. Go Home.’ So he had a great sense of humor (laugh). He was only half kidding.

It was his own plane that went down Thursday afternoon in Hookset. He and his wife Doris, who also loved flying, were on their way to New Hampton for a weekend Board Meeting.

Pilalas: Herman and Doris met in the 3rd grade, and they were soul mates for life. I believe they were married in excess of 60 years.

The couple had been living full time on Block Island, where Doris had been a trustee at the public library and involved in other community projects.

Pilalas: I’m absolutely certain that each would have been lost without the other. So perhaps there’s a blessing in the fact that they are gone together.

Officials at New Hampton are planning a memorial service for the couple. Today, the flag flies at half staff.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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