Legacy Awards honor four who've made a mark on state and its peopleBy KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader
June 07. 2017 9:25PM
MANCHESTER — Selfless sacrifice in the service of country and helping some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens characterizes those honored with the 2017 edition of the Granite State Legacy Awards Wednesday night.
The four are Dick Rawlings, 74, of Bedford; Pat Duffy, 80, of Manchester; Tom Tessier, 70, of Nashua, and Alex Ray, the 72-year-old founder of the Common Man Restaurant chain.
“It’s a rather rarified group,” said Joseph W. McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Gov. Chris Sununu saluted the winners in a letter that McQuaid read to open the ceremony at the Currier Museum of Art.
“New Hampshire relies on passionate citizens who are willing to volunteer their time and talents to make the state a better place,” Sununu said.
Tessier, a successful financial services executive, played a leading role in Veterans Count, a volunteer services program that has served as a model for other states. A Nashua native, Tessier served five tours in the Vietnam War.
“My guidance counselor in high school told me I would never amount to anything. That is when I decided to join the military,” Tessier said. “When you are young, you just do it — you don’t really think about it. That was the best advice I ever got.”
Duffy was president of Verizon Communications-New England before he became administrative services commissioner for the state of New Hampshire under former Republican Gov. Steve Merrill.
Along with 30 years active and reservist duty in the Air Force, Duffy’s philanthropy has ranged from serving for a decade on the Manchester Airport Authority, a stint as president of the Currier Board of Trustees and leading Optima Health Inc.
“It’s a delight to be able to share this terrific honor with all of you,” Duffy said. “It’s not like it’s hard work; it’s inspiring.”
A retired insurance executive, Rawlings spent the equivalent of a full career volunteering to serve on numerous boards — most notably as a longtime member of Easterseals. Rawlings met Easterseals executives while working with Northwestern Mutual Life and said the group had special meaning for him after the death of his only son at 9 months; doctors said had the child survived, he would have had special needs.
“We don’t do it for any other reason than to try and give back in some way to make our communities better,” said Rawlings, a Vietnam War veteran who also played a part in Veterans Count.
Alex Ray turned a single successful Ashland restaurant with home-style cooking into an iconic chain with 16 outlets and 1,200, year-round employees.
Over nearly five decades, Ray has become even better known for his charitable work, including bringing supplies to disaster sites — from the downed twin towers in New York City to earthquake-torn Haiti to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.
“I was absolutely a poor student in school, the world’s worst student. Kennett High School — it took me five years to get through it,” Ray quipped.
Early on, Ray thought he’d never work in a restaurant, having seen the seamier side of the business as a young dishwasher.
“It’s the worst profession in the world, next to journalism,” Ray joked.
Joseph B. Reilly, New Hampshire regional president of Eastern Bank, said he’s amazed at the “quality and diversity” of those nominated for this award.
“This is one of my favorite nights of the year,” Reilly said
Presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Eastern Bank, the Granite State Legacy Awards program was launched in 2012 to recognize people from all walks of life who have given much to the state over many years.