Longtime Nashua official, the late Richard J. LaRose, honored with alleyway
NASHUA — The late Richard J. LaRose has been described as witty and caring, but for those who knew the former Ward 2 alderman best, the word "honorable" seems to sum up his character.
In an effort to continue LaRose's community spirit, city officials and family members gathered on Friday to celebrate the man's volunteerism by dedicating a small alleyway in his honor.
The alleyway, located between West Pearl and School streets, was officially named Richard LaRose Way during a brief, yet touching, ceremony.
"This dedication of public space is really for the future," said LaRose's son, Jeremy. The honor is not about recognizing a great man, but understanding the true value of his time and compassion for the city, said the younger LaRose.
LaRose died on Feb. 1 at age 73. He served as a Ward 2 alderman for 12 years, stepping down in 2011, and also served as a state representative from 1995 to 2011.
LaRose also volunteered on the Joint Special School Building Committee, Nashua City Planning Board, Nashua Truck Traffic Committee, Heart of Nashua Foundation and various boards for the Nashua Children's Home, Nashua Chamber of Commerce and the Hunt Memorial Building.
"Dad was just a regular guy, perhaps, but he didn't settle for wanting a better community — he strived toward it," said Jeremy LaRose. "Neighbors build neighbors, and our community is what we do for each other."
A granite monument was unveiled along Richard LaRose Way, which highlights his many contributions to Nashua and New Hampshire.
"He served not for personal gain or recognition, but to leave this city and state a better place," says the monument. "We remember the loving and faithful husband, the father who taught honesty, goodness and kindness by example, the relative and friend known for his decency, zest for life and sense of humor, a man of integrity who treated all with respect and honored all points of view."
LaRose's wife, Madeleine, said her late husband would have been so thrilled to have a small part of the city named in his honor.
"He loved downtown, so I think this is very fitting. It is truly wonderful," she said, at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The LaRose family owned and operated The Modern restaurant for many years, as it became a landmark and staple in the city — housed next to the busy alleyway now named in memory of LaRose.
LaRose worked at the restaurant for more than 30 years, and was dedicated to making not only the restaurant a success, but the entire downtown, said his widow, who shared a story of when he lobbied for new downtown street lights and actually hand-painted them himself.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she smiles each time LaRose's name is mentioned. The two of them served in the state Legislature together, and Lozeau said she was shocked to learn that he had underwent heart transplant surgery in 1993.
The city, she said, is a better place for the time he served.
Brian McCarthy, president of the board of aldermen, echoed those sentiments.
"I always appreciated the way that he approached things," said McCarthy, explaining LaRose didn't care about politics or theatrics. His main concern was the city, and finding ways to make the community a better place to live.
LaRose never held back, never criticized colleagues and always felt the need to explain his position once everyone else was finished expressing theirs, according to McCarthy.
"But he was first and foremost a gentleman," said McCarthy. firstname.lastname@example.org