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Dr. Thayer D. Wade

Obituary for Dr. Thayer D. Wade

April 3, 1926 - January 19, 2019
Manchester, New Hampshire | Age 92

Obituary

Dr. Thayer Dixon Wade, 92, passed away peacefully Saturday, January 19, 2019. Thayer was a decorated World War II veteran, national leader in public education, a man of deep and abiding faith in God, and a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
 
Thayer was born in Whitestone, Long Island, New York on April 3, 1926, the second son of Norman F Wade and Margaret (McLaren) Wade, who had eight children. Moving to West Plymouth, NH in 1927, when his parents purchased the 100+ acre 1776 "Squire Blake Farm" on Rte 25, Thayer was "raised on the farm" where he enjoyed swimming in the Baker River and Smith Brook after hot days cutting hay, as well as hunting, fishing, downhill and cross-country skiing, and ski jumping, breaking his favorite pair of skis competing at the Gunstock NH ski jump.
 
Thayer graduated from Plymouth NH High School Class of 1944, where he played guard on the football team, center on the basketball team, catcher on the baseball team, and on the hockey team; He was the starting center of the 1944 Plymouth High School Championship Basketball Team.
 
Thayer entered World War II in 1944, serving in the European Theater in Italy in a heavy weapons company with the storied 10th  Mountain Division of the United States Army. He was an expert marksman with the Colt 45 pistol and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, World War II Honorable Service Button, and the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar. Thayer was honored for his service to the Country in accordance with the highest standards of United States Military in June 2015. He was honorably discharged as a non-commissioned officer at the rank of Sergeant in 1946.
 
Upon his discharge from the Army, Thayer attended Plymouth Teachers College, in Plymouth, NH, where he was a member of the Future Teachers of America, the college A Cappella Choir, and Canterbury Club, graduating in 1950. On October 15, 1950, he married the love of his life, Janet May (Arsenault) Wade, at St. Joseph's Church in Quincy, Massachusetts.
 
Thayer furthered his education, obtaining a Masters Degree in Elementary and Secondary Educational Administration from Boston University in 1954, and his Certificate of Advanced Study from Harvard University in 1955. He earned his Doctor's Degree from Harvard University in Educational Administration in 1963. He was affectionately known to many through his years as a professional educator as "Dr. Wade."
 
Thayer's educational experience started as a Teacher in Bristol, NH, shortly followed by a position as a Teacher/Administrator in Holderness, NH. But Thayer's time in the classroom before the blackboard did not last long as he became principal of the Holderness Elementary School, and then in 1955 principal of the Hampton, NH Junior High School and Hampton Elementary School. Shortly thereafter Thayer was selected to be the Superintendent of Schools for the multi-town Exeter NH School District Supervisory Union 14. In 1961, he became Superintendent of Schools in a community just north of New York City, North Salem, NY, and while there was nominated as one of the 100 Most Outstanding Educators in the United States.
 
During his years as an educator, which included the turbulent years of the late 1960s, Thayer was a Superintendent of Schools in the States of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Illinois, as well as New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, Thayer was the Superintendent of Schools for Rochester for 13 years from 1970 to 1983. He also worked for the NH State Board of Education, and was the first Superintendent of Schools for the new SAU 64 for Wakefield and Milton, from 1986 through 1992.
 
In addition to his work as a Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Wade was a member of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association Board of Directors and also served as its President; spoke at many regional conferences in numerous states; and was also selected to be a speaker for the National Association of School Administrators. Dr. Wade was picked by the National Association of School Administrators to represent the United States and attend a group of educators from China to study its education.
 
Thayer would often state, that "If I could change one person's life and make it better, I would consider my life a success." As a lifelong professional educator, Dr. Wade changed and touched the lives of countless individuals and made their lives better, mentoring thousands of students, teachers, professionals, parents, and individuals over his dynamic and successful 42 year career as an educator. He was always an educational innovator with a desire to make the education children and adults were receiving better. Dr. Wade was known for inspiring teachers and educational professionals to bring their best efforts to their vocation. He demanded that exceptionalism from himself as an educator. He helped design and oversee the construction of numerous public schools, including three high schools in different states. Dr. Wade was known for his innovation and developing excellent and effective educational programs in his School Districts that were adopted by other school districts statewide and nationally. These programs enhanced the educational opportunities and experiences for the academically gifted
students, special needs students, economically disadvantaged students, the developmentally disabled, as well as students dropping out of school and those students with addictive dependencies.
 
Dr. Wade developed the first education program to meet the unique needs of students with special needs in Hampton, NH in the early 1950s. This program became the Pilot Program for all schools in New Hampshire at a time when such students were locked out of educational opportunities. Dr Wade implemented the first NH High School Junior Air Force ROTC program in the State at Spaulding High School, which is still active today, and is a model followed by other New Hampshire school districts. In the 1970s as the Superintendent in Rochester, NH, Dr. Wade was approached by a parent whose child was having extreme difficulty learning in a traditional academic setting. Dr Wade's educational intervention led to the idea and later formation, of a multi school district educational undertaking which became known as the Strafford Learning Center. Dr. Wade was a founding member and served on its Board of Directors. At the time the Strafford Learning Center was a unique educational program serving the needs of students with disabilities unavailable anywhere else in the State of New Hampshire.
 
Dr. Wade was also instrumental in the formation of an "Alternative School" within the context of the public school district, to meet the needs of students dropping out of high school due to their inability to be successful in a traditional classroom setting, permitting these students to still receive their high school degree. In addition, Dr. Wade developed and implemented numerous effective vocational education programs for those students not moving on to college so that they could receive on-the-job training prior to leaving school, while at the same time developing and implementing successful educational programs to students that would improve their college bound test scores. Seeing the need in the community, Dr. Wade also opened the high school cafeteria to serve meals to the elderly and underprivileged in the evenings and on weekends. He spent considerable time in the court system advocating and defending children from abusive homes. Dr. Wade's expertise on children led to his selection as a member of the New Hampshire Crime Advisory Board where he assisted in writing the first CHIN's program adopted into law in New Hampshire. Finally, retiring from his long educational career in the 1990s, but ever remaining the educational innovator, Dr. Wade researched how new advances in scientific knowledge and information on how the brain functions should cause a revolution in how students learned and were taught in public education, writing a "A New Way to Learn for a New Century."
 
Colleagues at the highest level of New Hampshire public education have described the long and successful educational career of Thayer as follows: "Dr. Wade was a man of high moral character, standards, ideas and expectations. He was a positive role model and influence in the community." "Dr. Wade always brought a heightened sense of humanity to the decision-making process in matters affecting the education and well-being of children. A straightforward administrator whose integrity was never compromised by political expediency or personal ambition." "I always considered him to be a competent and successful career administrator whose commitment to public education was exceeded only by his dedication to and support of his family."
 
Thayer's passion and commitment for education was surpassed only by his devotion to his faith and family. In his youth Thayer attended the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Plymouth, NH where he was an Acolyte. Falling in love with "Janet's incredible and beautiful faith, especially her prayer of the Rosary," Thayer converted to Roman Catholicism at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Hampton, NH in the early 1950s. A longtime parishioner of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester, NH for over 40 years, Holy Mass and receiving the Eucharist was an anchor to his spiritual life, along with his devotion to Jesus and the Blessed Mother through the lifelong daily devotion to pray his Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy for his family and for those who were in need of, or who had asked for, his prayers. He often prayed the Rosary late into the night after School Board Meetings. He also read Scripture daily through the, "Word Among Us" publication. Like his educational leadership, in addition to his deep personal prayer life, Thayer lived and practiced his faith by living the witness of an exemplary Christian life, evangelizing by the example of how he lived his life. He brought his unique gifts and talent for innovation to his spiritual community as well.
 
Thayer served on Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church Pastoral Council for many years and was President of the Parish Council for six years. He also served on the Parish Finance Committee; he assisted in the redesign and delivery of youth spiritual formation and education; he was selected by the Pastor as a sponsor for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for the Parish; since 1979 he was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and during that time also brought the Eucharist to many who were home bound. Further, he was a member of a prayer team that prayed for people who were ill or in need. At the state level Thayer was a member of the Diocese of Manchester Spiritual Renewal Services and its Chairman for two years. He belonged to The Men of St. Joseph and led that organization for a number of years as well. A core mission of The Men of St. Joseph Organization was to form small men's groups to bring men closer to their faith. Thayer fostered that mission by forming several prayer groups in the Seacoast Area, which met together for over 25 years. Thayer is a founding organizer of Vita Nova, a lay apostolate to provide spiritual renewal services for the State of New Hampshire and served for many years on its Board of Directors.
 
Outside of his career and volunteer activities, Thayer enjoyed the relaxation of designing and building beautiful high-quality residential homes and cottages through a business he eventually called "Thayer Designer Homes." He would design and build a home, while Janet designed and decorated the interior.
 
Despite his many accomplishments, his favorite name and title was "honey" to his beloved wife Janet, and "dad" and "Grampa" to his children, grandchildren and great grandchild. He cherished his family and made them his priority. Thayer and Janet enjoyed summering with their children at cottages they built on Sleepers Island on Lake Winnipesaukee, where there was always swimming, sailing, boat rides to Wolfeboro for ice cream, hiking, Dad's great barbecued hamburgers and hotdogs, while at the same time refinishing antique boats, and the seemingly constantly repairing docks and moorings each spring from ice damage, work he did himself with the help of his sons and daughter. Thayer was always actively involved in his children's lives, which extended to his grandchildren, attending sports games, school concerts, trips, and the many wonderful experiences that arise in an active family.
 
Thayer leaves his beautiful "Miss Quincy Pageant Winner" wife of 68 years, Janet May (Arsenault) Wade; son Steven Wade and his wife Patti of Concord, NH, their two children, Mollie and Greggory and his wife Karolina of Boston; son Briand Wade and deceased wife Rhonda (2004) of Rye, NH, and his three children, Gretchen, Annie, and Sarah; daughter Margaret Wade and her three children, Tyler and Alex Jappe, and Kirby Brown and her husband Matt and their son Charles Brown; son Peter Wade and his wife Lisa of Chichester, NH, and their five children, Amanda, Abigail, Anna, Aili, and Peter; and son Geoffrey Wade, and his wife Meg of Needham, MA and their four children, Thayer, Geoffrey, Elizabeth and Patrick.
 
Thayer deeply touched the lives of all who knew him, and left those he knew better off for his love, faith, care and friendship.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, 189 N Main St, Rochester, NH 03867.

Donations in Thayer's name may be made to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church
    189 N. Main St.
    Rochester, NH 03867

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Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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