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Donald R. Lavallee

Obituary for Donald R. Lavallee

May 22, 1932 - March 24, 2017
Hampton, New Hampshire | Age 84


Donald R. Lavallee, 84, passed away Friday morning after a long life as one of the happiest men on earth. He was peaceful and with his beloved wife of 56 years, Betty Anne, at the end. He enjoyed many passions, including architecture, golf, flying and most of all, his family. He was a true son of New Hampshire, proud to help build some of the state's most iconic structures.

Don fulfilled dreams that he could barely imagine as a Depression Era son of French Canadian mill workers. He skied the Alps and traveled throughout Europe while serving in the U.S. Army. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, thanks to the G.I. Bill. He paid for flying lessons and piloted single engine aircraft for 50 years. He founded one of New Hampshire's most respected architectural firms. He was immensely proud of his parents, brothers, wife, children and grandchildren.

Don may be remembered best for his warm personality and engaging sense of humor. He was quick with a joke or playful tease for everyone he met. He spoke to strangers in elevators and over-tipped waitresses. He built friendships that lasted a lifetime. Several people considered Don to be their best friend and they were all right.

Don was born in Chicopee, MA, in 1932 and moved to Manchester with his family a few years later. He graduated from St. George School, one of the last grammar schools in the country to offer bilingual education in both French and English. Don graduated from Manchester Central High School in 1950. At the time, his oldest brother, Bob, was a Naval aviator in the Korean conflict. Seeking to join him in Korea, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army. In a happy twist of fate, the Army sent him instead to Garmisch Germany where he served as an Army ski patrolman for three years.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Don attended St. Anselm College. He transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1961. Now married, he and Betty Anne returned to Manchester where she began teaching in the city school system and Don launched his architectural career at Soule Associates. After many years at the firm, Don set off on his own in 1977. Eventually, he partnered with Barry Brensinger and changed the name of the firm to Lavallee Brensinger Professional Association. The firm has enjoyed success throughout New Hampshire, New England and even overseas.

Don gave back to his community in many ways. He served as president or a board member of many civic and professional associations, including the Manchester Rotary, the New Hampshire Board of Architects, the Manchester Country Club, Sudden Pitch and the Manchester Boys and Girls Club.
Throughout his life, Don was a loyal brother and steadfast son who doted on his mother after she was widowed at an early age. In his retirement, he and Betty Anne moved into a beach house that Don designed in Hampton, New Hampshire. He enjoyed countless rounds of golf with family and friends, long walks with Betty Anne and joyful days with his four grandchildren. He continued to sketch landscapes and portraits as he had done earlier in his career.
In addition to Betty Anne, Don is survived by his son Peter and his fiancé, Constance Frey, of Olympia, Washington; his son David and his wife Christina of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Peter's son Alexander; and David and Christina's children Charlie, Will and Emma, with whom he shared a birthday. He is also survived by many admiring nieces, nephews and in-laws. Don was predeceased by his parents, Armand and Lina Lavallee, and his brothers, Robert and Gerard.

Throughout his busy career, Don always made time to counsel young people interested in architecture. In lieu of flowers, he would appreciate a contribution to the scholarship fund of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Donation information is available at this link: or by emailing:

A celebration of Don's life will be held on Saturday, April 15th from 11 am to 2 pm at the Manchester Country Club, Bedford.

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, 1799 Elm St., Manchester is assisting with arrangements.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • American Institute of Architects
    P.O. Box 784
    Portsmouth, NH 03802

Arrangements By

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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