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Jean Lande Hennessey [1]


Jean Lande Hennessey, a resident of Hanover NH for 47 years, died on Wednesday at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital from the complications of cancer.  She was deeply involved in a wide range of quality of life issues in her adopted state of New Hampshire, and beyond. Two US Presidents appointed her to commissions with international responsibilities. In addition, she was a widely respected political activist, who was described in the press as the “doyenne” of Democratic NH politics and a “power broker.” 

Jean Hennessey began her public involvement in the late fifties and early sixties when she was a member of the Hanover NH Planning Board, President of the local League of Women Voters, and President of the NH-VT Economic Development Council. Her leadership in the development of a green belt around Hanover led to her appointment by NH Governor King to chair the Governor’s Commission on Natural Beauty. In 1968, she became the first executive director of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Affiliated Trusts, from which she retired in 1977 to accept the Presidency of Women & Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy. In that same period, she was a board member and chair of the committee on legislation and regulation of the Council on Foundations.

She was a principal architect of the election of NH Governor Hugh Gallen in 1978 and served as Gov. Gallen’s Budget Director until President Carter appointed her to the International Joint Commission-United States and Canada, where she was the first woman from either nation since the Commission’s founding in 1909 as an environmental rule maker and boundary steward.  At the same time, she was chair of the NH chapter of Nature Conservancy, author of the NH power plant siting act, and trustee and chair of the New England Natural Resources Center in Boston. In 1982, she became a research fellow on Dartmouth’s Environmental Studies faculty, and she was the first Director of the College’s Institute on Canada and the US, serving from 1986 to 1993. In 1994, she became the first US Executive Director of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation in Montréal, created by the NAFTA side agreements among the US, Canadian, and Mexican governments. In that same year, President Clinton appointed her a trustee of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in which post she served for eight years as a member of the fellowship and executive committees.  

For twenty years, she has been a trustee and chair of the finance committee of the Population Research Center in Princeton. She also served on the boards of the NH Civil Liberties Foundation, the Environmental Law Institute, the World Environment Center, the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, the Center for Northern Studies, the NH Commission on the Status of Women, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Montessori School in Hanover, as well as the NH Rhodes Scholar Selection Committee, the Advisory Committee on the Selection of a Federal District Court Judge, and the NH Air Pollution Control Commission.

In 1974, she received the Granite State Award for Public Service at the commencement of the University of New Hampshire, and she was also awarded UNH’s Doctor of Humane Letters in 1981.  Notre Dame College bestowed a Doctor of Laws on her in 1978, and she won the Milestone Award of the Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of America in 1993.

An active Democrat, she was a national committeewoman and chaired and served on numerous national and state campaign, finance, and convention committees. In 2003, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the NH Democratic Party.

She was born, raised, and attended public schools in Seattle. She was a 1948 graduate of Vassar College and served as her class president during the 1980s. 

She leaves her husband of 55 years, John, in Kendal at Hanover, NH, as well as her daughter Martha of Hanover, her son John of Weston, MA, her brother Philip of Seattle, three grandchildren, and her deceased sister’s four children, to whom she was a second mother for 24 years.

A Memorial Service for Jean L. Hennessey will be held on Sunday, June 27th at 2 pm, in Rollins Chapel at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, with Fred Berthold officiating. Former NH Governor Jeanne Shaheen and former VT Governor Philip Hoff will be among the speakers.

[1] This is the obituary of Jean Lande Hennessey of 80 Lyme Road, Hanover NH, who died on June 9, 2004.  Please direct any questions to her husband John tel: 603-643-6997 email: John.W.Hennessey@Dartmouth.edu, her son John trl: 781-894-1918 email John.H@wonk.com, or her daughter Martha tel: 603-643-8640 email: MHennessey@hennesseypsychological.com .

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