Saturday a week ago, New Hampshire lost an icon. Hooksett's Dorothy Robie passed away at the age of 96.
Robie grew up on a Hooksett farm, helped to run the family general store for half a century, and, naturally, played a gracious host to future Presidents and first ladies. She was a New Hampshire presidential primary legend not because she happened to run an old-fashioned general store where candidates could stop to meet real voters. She was a legend because she was such a wonderful and charming hostess, community leader and ambassador for New Hampshire.
Robie's Country Store, which she helped turn into a staple of the presidential primary, maintained its authentic general-store charm under her supervision. Though the walls were decorated with political memorabilia stretching back to the 1950s, the store never calcified into a shrine to a bygone era. She ran it as a genuine general store, where locals picked up coffee and a newspaper in the morning and stopped for lunch or an afternoon refreshment.
Because it remained a spot where locals would gather, it remained a place politicians needed to stop. And every one of them who came had to spend some time with Dorothy, who often fed them.
But Dorothy Robie was more than a political tourist attraction. She was deeply involved in her community. She was a Cub Scout den mother, a church and school volunteer, and an active leader in many civic organizations. She baked lemon bars, yes, but she also volunteered for so many activities that her own family had a hard time keeping up with what she was doing.
One of our favorite anecdotes, told by her son Wayne, is that she kept a jar of animal crackers in the house and invited all of the neighborhood children in to have as many as they wanted. That is the kind of small-town neighborliness seldom heard of anymore. But it is just one small example of the kind of giving person Dorothy Robie was. R.I.P.