Obituary of Gerald M. "Jerry" Dignam

Return to Table of Contents

Gerald M. "Jerry" Dignam

September 17, 1930 - July 7, 2017 from July 9 to July 12, 2017

Gerald M. "Jerry" DignamHAMPTON, N.H. – Gerald 'Jerry' M. Dignam, 86, a longtime resident of Hampton, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 7, 2017 in his beloved town of Hampton, surrounded by family. He was born September 17, 1930 in Bradford, England, son of the late Martin and Beatrice (Bracewell) Dignam. Raised in Yonkers, N.Y. where he met his wife of 64 years Margaret 'Marge' (Cocciardi) Dignam. Jerry graduated from Saunders Trade & Technical School, Class of 1948. Following graduation he proudly served in the U.S. Army as a member of the Ordinance Department during the Korean War.

Returning home from the Army, he first worked at Otis Elevator as an engineer, which led to a long career as a radar and missile guidance systems engineer for various contractors including Raytheon in locations all over the United States. He was very proud to have been part of the team that worked on the Saturn rocket, part of the Apollo program that helped propel man to space and the moon.

Mr. Dignam was very active in his community and was a member of American Legion Post 35, the Royal Society Bridge Club, Co-Chairman of the Hampton 350th Parade, former Chair of Hampton Beach Seafood Festival, former Chair of Hampton Town Democratic Committee, former President of Hampton Area Lions Club, and President of the former Exeter Hampton Elks Lodge, a former Knights of Columbus, and he emceed the Hampton Christmas Parade for years. Jerry volunteered for many organizations in support of his community and being the larger than life and colorful character he was, acted as master of ceremonies for countless fundraisers and events.

Jerry enjoyed cooking, singing, politics, woodworking, traveling, a good laugh, and swimming in the ocean especially at North Beach, was a voracious reader, but most of all he loved spending time with his family and friends.

In addition to his wife, Marge Dignam of Hampton he is survived by his children, Michael Dignam of Hampton, Gloria Dion and her husband Jack of Hampton, William Dignam and his wife Kelly of York, Maine, Dianne Frechette and her husband Allen of Hampton, Pamela Bates and her husband Garrett of Stratham; grandchildren, Jeffrey Dion and his partner Judy Boyd, Nicole Dion and her partner Jesse Simons, Matthew Dion, Caitlin Smith and her husband Jon, Joseph Dignam, Madelyn Dignam, Alaina Frechette and her partner Mike Emond; Patrick Frechette and his wife Ashley; great grandchildren, Cayden, Sophia, Olivia, Stella, and Sadie; and granddogs Chance, Ollie and Willie as well as his sister in law, Catherine O'Leary, brother in law Bobby Viggliotti and his wife Joan, brother in law Whitey Melvin, cousin Glenys Tencer and many nieces and nephews.

SERVICES: Visiting hours will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in the Remick & Gendron Funeral Home – Crematory, 811 Lafayette Rd., Hampton. A prayer service will immediately follow the visitation starting at 6 p.m. in the funeral home. Burial will be private. Donations in Jerry's memory can be made to Future In Sight, 25 Walker St, Concord, NH 03301 or the New Hampshire SPCA, PO Box 196, Stratham, NH 03885

By Max Sullivan
Courtesy of Seacoast Online
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 2:47 PM Updated Jul 13, 2017 at 2:48 PM

HAMPTON — Hampton residents are mourning the loss of Gerald “Jerry” Dignam, who died last week and was known for his work behind the scenes in numerous political and community efforts.

Dignam died July 7 at the age of 86. He was involved in numerous local organizations and events, his work ranging from helping put on the town’s 350th-anniversary celebration to chairing the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival. A prayer service took place Wednesday at Remick & Gendron Funeral Home.

Those who knew Dignam recalled him as a hard-working man of conviction and a caring friend. Former Senator Bob Preston, Sr., said Dignam was a close friend and said Dignam spent hundreds of hours helping him with political campaigns.

“Jerry was a character and was a very bright guy,” said Preston. “He was my best friend and buddy and political advocate.”

Dignam was a native of Yonkers, New York, and a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in the Ordinance Department during the Korean War. After the Army, he worked as an engineer on radar and missile guidance systems for various contractors, including for Raytheon and as part of the team that completed the Saturn rocket.

Dignam was known in town for being outspoken, never being fearful of what others would think of his opinions.

“If somebody in government wasn’t doing what he thought they should, he would always call them on it, and he didn’t mean it in a mean-spirited way,” said former selectman Fred Rice. “He did it in a very constructive way.”

Former selectman Brian Warburton, a close friend of Dignam, said Dignam was a loyal advocate for causes in which he believed in, like the reconstruction of the North Beach seawall.

“He wanted things done,” said Warburton. “He wanted to get things done in the community... His family should be very proud of what he did for this community.”

B.J. “Doc” Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, recalled working with Dignam on numerous local events and called him a “stalwart of the community.”

Dignam was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, chaired the Hampton Town Democratic Committee and was president of the Hampton Area Lions Club. He was part of the Royal Society Bridge Club, a group that once met at Widow Fletcher’s on Route 1 and whose ranks have been joined by numerous politicians on campaign stops including former vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.

Dignam was also a valued member of American Legion Post 35. Former Post 35 commander Ralph Fatello said it was sad for the post to lose another Korean War veteran.

Locals also remembered Dignam as a loving, fun person and a caring family man. Fatello said Dignam had “a great laugh” and that he and his wife Marge were “Hampton icons.”

Dignam was the emcee at the Hampton Christmas Parade for years, and Warburton recalled Dignam as talented on the microphone and having “a knack for entertaining.”

“He was that type of guy. A lot of fun,” said Warburton. “He was a good guy... he’ll be missed.”

Return to Table of Contents