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Remembering Harold Janeway

Few people have given greater service to — or had a greater impact on — the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation than Harold Janeway. He was a beloved member of the Foundation community who will be profoundly missed. "When I think about Harold, I will always think of his ability to gently ask hard questions, his humor, his vision, his patience when it was appropriate and impatience when it was not,” said Foundation President and CEO Richard Ober. “I think there are two words that tie all that together — wisdom and love.”

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Harold Janeway. Harold was a beloved member of the Charitable Foundation community who remained a close friend and advisor to the organization to the end of his days.

Harold was a champion of conserving New Hampshire’s natural resources and of protecting LGBTQ rights, a farmer and a rock-climber, devoted husband, father and grandfather, longtime Webster Town Moderator, president of White Mountain Investment and two-term New Hampshire State Senator.

Few people have given greater service to — or had a greater impact on — the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation than Harold did. His beautifully written obituary notes that Harold was “widely admired for his evenhanded temper and skillfully deployed wit.” Harold chaired the Foundation’s board of directors from 2003 to 2005 and its investment committee from 1995 to 1997 with the same “evenhanded temper and skillfully deployed wit” with which he moderated Webster’s Town Meetings for 23 years. He served on the Foundation’s board for eight years and its investment committee for more than two decades, helping to steer improvements in the management of the community foundation’s assets that strengthened its ability to serve New Hampshire in good times, and in times of crisis. He served on the Capital Region Advisory Board for five years.

“When I think about Harold, I will always think of his ability to gently ask hard questions, his humor, his vision, his patience when it was appropriate and impatience when it was not,” said Foundation President and CEO Richard Ober, who lived in Webster when Harold was town moderator, and worked at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests when Harold chaired that organization’s board. “I think there are two words that tie all that together — wisdom and love.”

Harold’s gentle demeanor, kindness and authenticity made this man of towering intellect entirely accessible to everyone he met.

“Harold had a fundamental decency and an extraordinary mix of financial savvy and wisdom and the ability to help all of us understand complicated policy issues,” said former Foundation president and CEO Lew Feldstein. “And he always had that smile, and a softness. To be that powerful and smart a thinker and to be as modest as he was,” Feldstein said, “that was rare like nobody else we saw. The power of his ability to think and to lead was based on the decency, intelligence — and his quietness. We had many people over the years at the table, and when Harold spoke, the room got quiet. People just listened to what Harold said.”

Harold did more with the available hours in a day than seems reasonably possible: While running White Mountain Investment, he was also deeply involved in New Hampshire nonprofits — including the Forest Society, the Trust for New Hampshire Lands/LCHP (forerunner of LCHIP) and the Conservation Law Foundation. More recently, he served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire and Northern Forest Center. And Harold and his wife Betsy donated their 477-acre farm to the Five Rivers Conservation Trust in the form of a “life estate” before Harold’s death. With Betsy, he helped to launch Concord’s Red River Theatre and offered stalwart support to other organizations in whose missions he believed, including PFLAG-NH, the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

He and Betsy also maintained and worked their farm on the Blackwater River in Webster — splitting wood, making maple syrup, raising sheep, and cutting hay. A call to the house during a sleet-storm one recent winter found Harold up on a ladder, clearing an ice dam.

“Harold always climbed the ladder in the storm and cleared the ice dams for all of us, again and again,” Feldstein said. “And you trusted him, and you knew he wasn’t going to fall, you knew he wasn’t going to screw it up and cave the roof in. I am sure that most of us who knew and got to work with Harold never knew anyone else in our lives who was like him.”

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