Editorial: The Monahons left a legacy of bricks and mortar

Legacies are built brick by brick, and they’re rooted both in good deeds and unflinching resolve. As well-respected architects, few knew what it meant to build that type of enduring legacy better than Rick and Mary “Duffy” Monahon. But to say they were architects may miss the point, because the blueprint of that legacy stretches across all corners of our communities and it touched all aspects of our worlds.

The news that the Monahons were killed Sunday evening in a crash on routes 202 and 9 in Hillsborough hit hard for many of us who have been touched by the Monahons’ efforts over the years.

Both Rick and Duffy are known for bringing people together around important issues, and many of their friends and acquaintances reached out to us Monday morning to help us tell their story. For Margaret Baker of Hancock, it was the couple’s concern for zoning issues and development that stood out, as well as Duffy’s longtime support of Andy’s Summer Playhouse. “They’re kind of legendary in this town,” said Baker, who called them guardians of development.

Francie Von Mertens of Peterborough drew our attention to the Monahons’ love of conservation work. Duffy was the recipient of the Peterborough Conservation Commission’s Conservation Award in 2003. “Duffy was the catalyst in conserving over 150 acres as town conservation land off Old Jaffrey Road. Connecting to the Fremont Field, the land offers a mile of trails that include two streams and scenic woodlands. In addition, she successfully lobbied members of her family to follow her example by placing permanent development restrictions on over 250 acres of what was her grandparents’, the Hoffmans, apple orchard on Four Winds Farm Road,” Von Mertens wrote in a 2003 press release about the award.

Select Board member Joe Byk recalled Duffy’s passion for the revitalization of downtown Peterborough. “At times she was like a lone wolf howling in the dark,” Byke said.

Liz LaRose of Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield wrote to us about the Monahons’ role in the opening of Fox Meadow Apartments in the early 1990s: “In the early ’90s, Crotched Mountain opened Fox Meadow Apartments on the Greenfield campus. Rick was the architect and Duffy was the interior designer for this project. The [Americans with Disabilities Act] had just passed during this timeframe and the apartments were created to provide people with disabilities with the skills needed to live independently in their own communities. As part of the design process, Rick and Duffy spent quite a bit of time with our clients to learn what types accommodations were needed for accessibility.”

These and many other stories about the Monahons speak of the couple’s great vision and concern for the world around them, and their contributions reached many more people than there is space here to tell.

The tragedy of their loss shouldn’t be overshadowed by all they accomplished, so we’re asking the public to share their stories with us by midnight today (Jan. 29). Please email contributions to news@ledgertranscript.com with Monahon in the subject line or drop off a typed note at our offices on Grove Street. Include your name and town of residence, and a phone number where you can be reached.

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