Recalling service of longtime treasurer
Christian was 2012 business leader of year
Peterborough horse trough dedication, town meeting 5-10-12, joe byk, ken christian Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
PETERBOROUGH — For more than 40 years, Ken Christian was a familiar figure on the sidewalks of downtown Peterborough. Every day he’d walk to work from his Concord Street home to the downtown offices of the Bellows-Nichols insurance agency. He’d also walk regularly to the Town House, where he served at Peterborough’s town treasurer for more than 20 years.
Christian died on Sunday at the age of 68 after struggling with cancer in recent years. He gave up his treasurer’s job last spring, shortly after he was chosen as Peterborough’s Business Leader of the Year for 2012.
“Ken was very humbled by that recognition,” said his wife, Bonnie Christian, on Monday. “He felt it was really his staff that made him look good. He always wanted to be sure his clients were well taken care of. He was a kind, compassionate and generous man.”
Bonnie said her husband started working at Bellows-Nichols in 1970, when the couple moved to Peterborough. He purchased the company in 1984.
“He branched out, and now there are four other offices as well as the main office,” Bonnie said. “We have about 20 people overall.”
The Christians lived in Jaffrey prior to moving to Peterborough. Ken Christian graduated from Conant High School in Jaffrey in 1962 and from the University of New Hampshire, with a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting, in 1966.
Christian was an institution in town, according to Ted Leach, the former owner of the Monadnock Ledger, who recalled seeing Christian walking regularly past the newspaper’s office, which was in the building that now houses the Mariposa Museum.
“He was very stitched in to the fabric of Peterborough,” Leach said on Monday. “I’d see him walking to work every day and at night, he be carrying the company’s hard disks home to protect them. He was part of the rhythm of Peterborough.”
Leach recalled playing baseball against Christian when the Rotary Club and the Lions took the field.
“We were both pitchers,” Leach said. “There was always a quiet battle there.”
On Monday, other friends of Christian said he was devoted to both the community and to his family.
“He was one of the good guys,” said Jim Grant of Peterborough, who is active in the American Legion. “I could always call on him to drive a veteran in the parade. Ken was a wonderful father and he was the kindest human being anyone could hope to work with. You could always go to him for support of a worthy cause.”
Wayne Thomas first got to know Christian in 1973.
“We were neighbors on Concord Street,” Thomas said. “He bought a lawn mower. I bought a snowblower. We traded them back and forth. He was a really down-to-earth guy who really came through for me and would always help. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Roland Patten, a fellow Lions Club member, said Christian was honored with the club’s Melvin Jones award.
“Ken was president for a year and always worked in leadership roles,” Patten said. “He was always making sure the financial affairs of the club were in great shape.”
Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner said Christian’s financial expertise was invaluable to the town during his years as treasurer.
“It’s a job that takes a lot of time,” Brenner said. “For years, he wrote and signed every check. He balanced all the town’s accounts. I’m sure he did it for many of those years for little or no pay.”
Brenner said Christian was quiet and extremely reliable.
“Ken was always very unassuming, working behind the scenes,” she said. “He was just a wonderful asset to the community.”
In addition to his service as a Lion, Christian had been a member of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, served a term as chair of the Board of Directors of Monadnock Community Bank, was a former trustee and treasurer of the Scott-Farrar Home.
He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War era and was a member and past commander of the Amoskeag Veterans.
Christian’s daughter, Lori Bailey, said her memories of her father focus on his love of his family.
“My father was very dedicated to this town, through his business, as town treasurer, through the different clubs. And as hard as he worked, he always made time for his family,” Bailey said on Monday. “He loved his children and his grandchildren.”
Bonnie Christian said her husband was very modest and had been surprised and honored when he was recognized last year as a leader in the town.
“I don’t think Ken ever felt he did anything extraordinary, yet he touched a lot of lives,” Bonnie said. “He did a lot for so many people that no one ever knew about.”
Christian’s obituary appears on page 18.
Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.