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Fatal Hillsborough crash devastates Peterborough, Concord families

New Hampshire Union Leader
Union Leader Correspondent

January 28. 2013 10:20PM
This photo of Rick and Duffy Monahon was taken while they were traveling in Scotland in 2007. (COURTESY)

Two New Hampshire families are reeling after two sets of retirement-aged couples died Sunday night on a state highway in Hillsborough.

One couple were a husband-wife architectural team who played key roles in Peterborough and Harrisville.

The other were a retired corrections officer and retired school teacher who stayed together for 42 years, despite his affinity for the Boston Red Sox and hers for the New York Yankees.

"Our thoughts and prayers are not only with our parents but with the other couple as well," said Michael Robb, son of the mismatched baseball lovers, Concord residents Donald Robb, 68, and Brenda Mary Robb, 62.

In Peterborough, town officials and residents mourned the death of Rick Monahon, 69, and Mary "Duffy" Monahon, 71.

Townspeople praised their work to convert downtown Harrisville into a historic site, land conservation work and preservation of her third-generation family farm.

"Duffy and Rick were a creative force in shaping what we see and feel when we come to Peterborough," said Peterborough Selectman Joe Byk. "They were tireless visionaries who will leave a huge void."

Both were architects and worked at the downtown office of Richard M. Monahon Jr., AIA Architects.

The accident took place about 5 p.m. on Route 202/9 in Hillsborough, a dangerous, two-lane straightaway that has lent itself to horrific crashes in the past.

The Robbs were returning home after dropping off their 7-year-old granddaughter at her home in Chesterfield, said son Michael Robb.

He said it was a blessing that Ella was not in the car when the crash happened.

Police said Richard Monahon was driving his 2013 Subaru Forester west when it collided with the eastbound 2005 Toyota carrying the Robbs.

The Monahons and Donald Robb were pronounced dead at the scene. An ambulance rushed Brenda Robb to Concord Hospital, where a helicopter flew her to a Boston hospital, where she died of her injuries.

Police have not said which car crossed the line. They said alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

In Peterborough, officials said that Duffy Monahon advocated downtown revitalization in the 1990s, as opposed to rezoning of gateways for commercial development.

Depot Square, an abandoned mill, was redeveloped, and now Peterborough is a prime example of preservation and smart growth.

"She was just so full of energy and so full of life," said Francie Von Mertens, the Peterborough Conservation Commission chairman.

Rick Monahon was the current planning board chairman.

"Everybody is reacting with tremendous grief and horror," said Selectman Liz Thomas. "Nobody is going to fill that space that they left here. It's shocking, really shocking."

On Monday, town residents said they would visit the Monahon's 35-acre farm to make sure their sheep were fed.

The Robbs resided in Concord for more than 30 years. He retired 12 years ago, after working 26 years with the state Department of Corrections.

She was a retired Concord reading specialist/language arts teacher at Rundlett Junior High School. She retired in 1996 at age 45.

Huge baseball fans, the Robbs bought a second home in Florida so they could attend spring training. For a short time, they were snowbirds but, Robb said, they discovered they missed their children so they decided to limit their stay each year in the Sunshine State to only the month of March.

Donald played softball in city leagues, while his wife volunteered at homeless shelters and answered the rape and domestic violence hotlines.

"They just had a zest for life," Michael Robb said. "They had a happy life."

The Robbs have a daugher, Erin Scaggs, of Chesterfield and two granddaughters, Ella, 7, and Pearl, 1.

The Monahons have a daughter, Sophie, who is in architectural graduate school at the University of Texas. Duffy had three children from another marriage: Ian Spencer of Los Angeles, Duncan Spencer of Philadelphia and Dooney Leeson of Taos, N.M.

The crash remains under investigation. Hillsborough police, with the assistance of New Hampshire State Police Technical Accident Reconstruction team, continue to investigate the crash.

Anyone with more information or who witnessed the collision is asked to call Sgt. Nicholas Hodgen or Officer Christopher Parson at 464-5512.

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