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Leon Kenison: Nashua planner and former DOT commissioner dies

NASHUA -- — A great visionary and planner for the city of Nashua and New Hampshire died this past weekend, leaving behind big shoes to fill in the Gate City.

Leon Kenison, project administrator for the Broad Street Parkway and former Department of Public Works director, died on Sunday after a battle with kidney cancer.

Kenison, of Bow, is not only well known in the city, but in several smaller New Hampshire communities where he served as town administrator for Pittsfield and Hopkinton, interim city manager in Lebanon and as a selectman in Bow. For 37 years, Kenison worked for the state Department of Transportation, serving as its commissioner for four years before retiring in 2000.

&#';This is a big loss to the city,&#'; Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said on Monday. &#';It has been a rough six or eight months for him and his family.&#';

Kenison has been on medical leave from his Broad Street Parkway role for several months, and Lozeau said she was respectful of his health problems but was hoping he would pull through.

&#';He was very well liked and respected — a go-to person for many people,&#'; Lozeau said.

Kenison, 70, was the perfect person to manage the Broad Street Parkway project, as he was particularly interested in seeing it come to fruition, said the mayor.

But the most obvious thing Lozeau said she will miss about Kenison was his infectious laugh that made just about everyone smile.

&#';Leon had a great, hearty belly laugh that is hard to come by,&#'; she said.

Kenison's wife, Gale, said on Monday that her husband is now at peace and is no longer struggling with pain.

He was diagnosed with kidney cancer about a year ago, according to Gale Kenison, who described it as a very rare and aggressive cancer.

&#';We knew that his time was short, but he gave it the best he could,&#'; she said. &#';He is in a good place right now.&#';

Leon Kenison didn't believe in retirement, according to his wife, who said he was determined to keep busy and devote his talents to worthwhile projects such as the Broad Street Parkway initiative.

Alderman David Deane described Kenison as a straightforward, no-nonsense professional who was a wealth of knowledge. &#';I liked his style of leadership,&#'; Deane added.

City engineer Steve Dookran has been overseeing the Broad Street Parkway project while Kenison was out on medical leave. Gale Kenison said she is hopeful the city will take into consideration all of her husband's recommendations when constructing the bridge, as it was a great passion of his.

Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Bennett Funeral Home in Concord. A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Bow Community Center. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Bow Rotary Club for a civil engineering fellowship: P.O. Box 35, Bow, NH 03304.

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