Charlotte K. Preston
October 7, 1931 - February 2, 2016
The Hampton Union , February 5, 2016
HAMPTON – Charlotte K. Preston, 84, of Hampton, also regarded by many as “The First Lady of Hampton”, died Tuesday, February 2, 2016, at Healthpark Medical Center in Fort Myers, Fla. where she wintered the past 15 years.
She was born October 7, 1931, in Lawrence, Mass., a daughter of the late Raymond V. and Annie M. (Reason) Keefe.
Charlotte was raised and educated in Lawrence and was a graduate of St. Patrick Grammar and St. Patrick High School and went on to earn her nursing diploma from the Catherine Labouré School of Nursing at St. John’s Hospital in Lowell, Mass.
She shared 63 years of marriage with the love of her life, former State Senator Robert F. Preston. Charlotte met Bob in 1948 as a 16 year old blue eyed girl working as a clerk at the Rexall Drug Store at Hampton Beach. Bob was working as a dishwasher at the former Kelly’s Restaurant also at Hampton Beach and it was love at first sight.
Mrs. Preston had worked as a registered nurse at the former Bon Secours Hospital in Lawrence for decades and volunteered as the school nurse at Sacred Heart School in Hampton for several years. She also remained an active member of St. John’s Alumni Association.
At the time of her death Charlotte and Bob were one of the oldest couples in business at Hampton Beach, founding Preston Real Estate over 50 years ago. Prior to that, Bob ran a hot dog stand at the old Ashworth Hotel. She also owned and operated the former Yankee Lady Gifts and Apparel Shop at Hampton Beach.
She was longtime communicant of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish and was a member of the former Catholic Women’s Club. She was a life member and most active recruiter of the 100 Club of NH raising funds for the benefit of fallen police officers, firefighters and their families. She was the “go to lady” for raising money for any and every cause to benefit others. People knew that when they met or received a call from Charlotte she would be seeking assistance to help the more needy.
Charlotte was supervisor of the checklist in Hampton for decades, the former chair of the Democratic Party of Hampton and was very active in the Democratic political community. She was a proponent of organ donation and successfully lobbied for having NH driver’s licenses annotated with the organ donor logo. Over 15 years ago she helped find the location of the Soup Kitchen and Clinic at C Street and Ashworth Avenue at Hampton Beach that has grown to serve ten to twelve thousand meals each year. She was also a member of the Hampton Rotary Club and was the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow award.
In addition to her beloved husband Bob, she leaves five children, Maryrae Preston and husband Kevin Reusch of Hampton, Martha-Anne Preston and partner Paul Himmer of Seabrook Beach, Bob Preston and partner Angela Anderson of Hampton, Charlie Preston and partner Susanne Kolosey, James Preston and wife Heather of Seabrook Beach, many grandchildren and great grandchildren, her siblings, Maryrae Whalley and husband Edward of Lynnfield, Mass., Joan Cargill and husband David of Lawrence, Mass., Denise Menery of Hampton, Bonnie Hoffman of Cleveland, O.H., and scores of nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her brother, Charles Keefe, and sisters, Margaret Rice and Virginia Fleming.
SERVICES: Visiting hours will be from 3-7 p.m., Sunday, February 7, 2016, at the Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory, 811 Lafayette Road, Hampton. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Monday, February 8, 2016, at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, 289 Lafayette Road, Hampton. Burial will follow in the High Street Cemetery, Hampton. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Experience Hampton (a community organization for the betterment of the Town of Hampton) P.O. Box 1601, Hampton, N.H., 03843.
'One of Hampton's matriarchs' mourned
Preston remembered for good deeds, kind heart
HAMPTON – The Hampton community lost a beloved woman and fixture in town this week, as Charlotte Preston died Tuesday at the age of 84.
Charlotte was the wife of former state senator Bob Preston, who held office for 10 terms. She was known around Hampton for her big heart, always willing to help those in need. She served as the supervisor of the checklist and was known for being a political advocate at town hall and in Concord.
“She was an incredible person that really loved Hampton and making a difference in people’s lives,” said her son, Bob Preston, Jr.
“I would call her one of Hampton’s matriarchs,” said John Nyhan, president of Experience Hampton and friend of the Preston family.
Charlotte died at her condo in Fort Myers, Florida with her husband and two daughters. Her wake will be held at Remick and Gendron Funeral Home at 811 Lafayette Road Sunday.
Charlotte, born and raised in Lawrence, Mass., spent her summers at Hampton Beach. It was there she met her husband, Bob, while working at a local drug store, Donovan & Fallon Rexall, in 1947. The two were married five years later and settled in Hampton, raising five children.
Charlotte worked as a registered nurse for a few years before joining her husband to open Preston Real Estate, which is still open today.
She became involved in town politics because of her husband’s political career. She started as a checker in Hampton in 1970, working alongside then-town moderator Al Casassa. She ran for supervisor of the checklist in 1979.
Bob Preston, Jr., said Charlotte was a powerful political companion for his father. He said it’s incredible his father managed to win 10 elections as a Democrat in Hampton, then a predominantly Republican town. Charlotte played a big part in making that happen with her networking in Hampton, he said.
“(My father) said, ‘If it wasn’t for Charlotte, I wouldn’t have been elected to the Senate for 20 years,’” Bob Preston, Jr. said. He recalled how his father was unopposed in at least two state Senate elections and how it spoke volumes about the success his parents had in defending their seat.
“Imagine a Senate race, you’d go unopposed,” said Bob Preston, Jr. “Because you couldn’t beat Bob and Charlotte Preston.”
Charlotte also joined her husband on numerous trips to the White House as guests of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Preston was known for her persistence in getting the town to make necessary change. She once lobbied the selectmen to expand the supervisor’s hours so voters would have more time to register for elections. She also pushed to expand the time the polls are open to voters. Both were accomplished. Voters can now register with the town clerk during town office hours, and poll times were expanded to run 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Preston took her passion for change to Concord as well as the Hampton Town Hall. After a friend got sick and needed a heart and lung transplant, she went to the Statehouse to lobby officials to start an organ-donor program. The state eventually began giving residents the option to become organ donors when they get their driver’s licenses.
“She saw a problem and had to get involved,” said Charlotte’s son, Charlie Preston.
Charlotte’s charity in town included her help in opening a soup kitchen at Hampton Beach, getting her son Bob to donate space in one of his properties to a local reverend. She was also known for inviting police officers into her home and feeding them during snowstorms and holidays. She helped raise money for several charities and organizations, including cancer and heart foundations, as well as Hampton’s mounted police.
“She was a very charitable woman,” Charlie Preston said.
Those who knew her in town said they remember Charlotte for her good deeds and kind spirit.
John Tinios, owner of the Galley Hatch, said his mother Kay was a good friend of Charlotte. He recalled Charlotte as a “doer at the beach.”
“Charlotte was always doing something for somebody, and a lot of it went unnoticed because she wasn’t looking for credit,” Tinios said.
Bob Preston, Jr., said his mother was a “dynamo,” full of life. Nyhan said he remembers that dynamic personality well.
“She was a character, at times outspoken, told people what she thought, didn’t have any worries about that,” Nyhan said. “She got a lot of chuckles from people for being very, very direct, but the bottom line is, she was a very lovable woman, one who cared for the community.”