Many names were in the news in 2012 for various reasons, ranging from those who fought health battles and lost, to new faces taking over key roles in town government.
Others made a difference in quieter ways by offering support and help to those in need.
The following are just some of the more notable names of 2012.
Laura Nelson arrived in Derry this year to take over the helm as Derry’s school superintendent. She replaced Mary Ellen Hannon, who served the district in that role for a decade.
Nelson came to town after serving as assistant superintendent of the Exeter Regional Cooperative School District and was chosen from a top field of three candidates.
Upon arriving in Derry, the Kentucky native said she was looking forward to what was ahead after serving in other New Hampshire schools for 26 years as a teacher, parent, principal and assistant superintendent.
“This is a very supportive community and I love the diversity it has to offer,” Nelson said.
Derry’s top police official celebrated 40 years on the job in 2012.
Police Chief Edward Garone was honored for his 40 years of service this year; he received town and state accolades from officials and political leaders.
Garone’s ride as Derry’s chief began in June 1972, arriving in town from a captain’s position in Lebanon.
He is now the state’s longest running chief of police.
Garone was named Derry’s Citizen of the Year in 1984. He also is known in the community for his other hard work on projects as a Rotarian, Boys and Girls Club leader and many other roles.
This year, officials made June Edward B. Garone Month in Derry and said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man.
When the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce was searching for a new leader to take the helm and lead the business organization in a new direction, they found Stacey Bruzzese.
Bruzzese came to town to lead the Chamber in September, taking on the executive role and replacing outgoing director Gina Gulino-Payne, who left to pursue another opportunity.
Bruzzese said she was enjoying her new role in Derry, saying she often walks the Broadway sidewalks, greeting business owners and finding out what their hopes are for the town.
Bill Parnell, president of the Chamber board of directors, said Bruzzese stood out as the top choice for the job.
“Stacy just struck a nerve with everybody,” Parnell said. “She came highly recommended.”
The Chamber currently has approximately 260 members representing Derry, Londonderry, Manchester, Windham, Chester, Auburn, Atkinson and Hampstead.
The organization hosts many economic development forums, special events, and community activities throughout the year, including an annual Citizen and Business of the Year prize and the holiday parade in Derry.
She is a woman of many “firsts” and has spent decades supporting her community.
Janet Conroy was named the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2012.
Conroy was the first female elected to Derry’s Board of Selectmen in 1976 and became the group’s first female chairman. She was also the first woman to join the Derry Village Rotary Club, spent 12 years as a state representative and served as a library trustee.
Conroy also has a strong support system in place for the Marion Gerrish Community Center, recently celebrating its 40th anniversary in town.
She always liked to take chances.
“You take the opportunities life hands you and you build on them,” she said. “The road behind me is a lot longer than the road in front of me. The opportunities to serve always came at the right time, or I was in the right place at the right time.”
Conroy was honored by the Chamber for her accomplishments and received her honor at the annual ceremony in November.
The Pinkerton Academy community said goodbye to longtime coach and faculty member Ralph Van Nostrand. The popular coach and counselor, known to most as “Coach Van,” died in January and was honored by his school for his more than 30 years with a special memorial service in a packed Stockbridge Theatre.
In the months after Van Nostrand’s death, Pinkerton students and staff continued efforts to support Van Nostrand’s family and other causes in his name.
Athletes helped with lawn work and other chores at the Van Nostrand home and also played in memorial sporting events to help.
Donations also came in to support a memorial scholarship in the coach’s name and planted a tree in the school’s memorial garden.
Van Nostrand was inducted into Pinkerton’s Hall of Fame in September.
For an eighth-grader, this young woman has done a lot.
Caitlyn Cyr, a student at West Running Brook Middle School, earned the honor of being named the top student volunteer by the state’s PTA. She spends time every week working with first-graders at Derry Village Elementary School and was nominated for the award by Derry Village teacher Linda Rosinski.
For Caitlyn, coming to the school to help the younger students gives her a chance to learn about teaching, something she may want to do later in life.
Roskinski said Caitlyn helps out with reading and other special projects and the students love it when she comes. The day has even been named “Caitlyn Day” when it’s time for her arrival each week.
He’s “Mr. Music” to those who know and love him in Londonderry, leading the successful Londonderry High School Lancers marching band for years and bringing a sense of musical community and commitment to the town.
The town of Londonderry honored Andy Soucy this year with its Citizen of the Year award. The music director received his honor during the February deliberative session.
“It’s an honor, it’s overwhelming,” Soucy said. “I was truly shocked.”
Soucy also was named the Chamber’s Citizen of the year in 2010.
Soucy is always humble when attention is directed his way.
“I’m just the front guy,” he said after winning his award. “I support what the department does, it’s the whole program.
Soucy has been with the Londonderry School District for 38 years.
He has led the band through many key performances not only on the local front, but worldwide.
The band has performed in China for the 2008 Olympics and also at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. They have been invited back next month for the 2013 inaugural parade.
Soucy credits the town for making music a top priority.
“This town has made music important,” he said. “And it’s all about the kids. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The town’s police chief took on a dual role this year, stepping into the town manager’s job following the departure of David Caron this summer.
Hart remained on the job through the year as town officials began the process of searching for a new face to lead the town.
He has made some significant changes, consolidating some responsibilities, eliminating jobs and reducing others.
The Town Council appears very happy with Hart’s performance. Members anticipate having a permanent manager in place by April 1.
Hart has not applied for the job. Some may wonder whether his dual roles could be permanent.
Christopher George knows his meat.
The owner of longtime Londonderry staple Mr. Steer meats was named the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year recipient in 2012.
He was honored in November by the Chamber.
For George, it’s been 38 years of owning and operating his family business, and bringing the best quality product to his community.
Those who know George say he has a big heart and a bigger work ethic.
He also pitches in to help support community efforts and missions.
“I wan’t to thank my customers and friends who gave me support,” George said when accepting his honor. “I wouldn’t be here without them. It turned out OK and I’m very happy.”
Londonderry’s longtime director of Community Development said goodbye in 2012.
After serving in the position since 1999, Andre Garron resigned from the job to take another position with the University of New Hampshire’s Extension service.
Garron said the new job presented itself at the right time.
“There is a bigger opportunity there,” he said.
Garron’s job hasn’t been filled yet, but this vacancy joins several others in town, including the senior affairs director position.
Town officials are working on the next step to post the open positions.