Memories 2

Jack Landow found this article in the Laconia Citizen. Thank you Jack for sending it to the website…. Bob Lamprey was a great supporter of Belknap College and the coach of our baseball team.

GOOD GUYS ALWAYS WEAR WHITE HATS, by Bea Wheeler, 1/12/2007, used with permission, Laconia Citizen

Bob Lamprey likes to recount that if it weren’t for an errant golf shot he may never have been able to call New Hampshire home.

Lamprey’s maternal grandfather Willie Campbell was a legend in the world of golf. Born in 1862 in Musselburgh, Scotland, Campbell twice lost the Open Championship by a single stroke. In 1887 he sent his tee shot into a pot bunker at the Old Course at St. Andrews and turned an easy score of four into a nine when he refused the crowd’s advise to “play back.” Golf historian agreed that fatal mistake obscured his career match play record. Today, the bunker still pays homage to Campbell and is known as “Willie’s Grave.” Lamprey has photos of himself flailing at an attempt to clear the sheer-walled bunker and his blue eye twinkle as he concedes course officials were kind enough to provide a ladder for him to climb out.

Had Campbell won the event, Lamprey doubts his grandfather would have ever have ever crossed the Atlantic to seek his fortune. Seven years later, Campbell migrated to the U.S. and was named golf professional at the historic Country Club in Brookline, MA. He was commissioned to design a number of golf courses throughout the U.S., and hand crafted both wooden clubs and “gutty” balls. Developed around 1848, these balls were made of “gutta percha”, a hard rubbery substance molded from a milky juice obtained from a tree, indigenous to Malaya. But unfortunately Campbell’s health deteriorated and he died in 1900 of cancer at the age of 38. His widow, Georgina however continued his legacy of teaching and became the first female golf professional in the United States.

Today, Lamprey, 89, owns a wooden driver crafted by his grandfather. The club bears a simple diamond shaped emblem on the top of the head engraved, “Willie Campbell, Boston.”

Lamprey grew up in Moultonboro and lived with his parents in the Red Hill House a boarding house that now serves as a museum for the Moultonboro Historical Society. After attending the one-room schoolhouse in Moultonborough, Lamprey went on to Meredith High School before attending Springfield College. While there, Lamprey was a halfback on the school’s national championship soccer team. He also played baseball. After graduating in 1939 with a bachelor’s of science degree he starting teaching at Penacook High School and coaching basketball.

Pre Pearl Harbor, Gene Tunney the world champion boxer a Lieutenant Commander was recuiting an elite squad of men who would become instructors for naval training. Because of Bob’s education at Springfield he was “invited’ by Tunney to be recruited. During the enlistment process it was discovered that Bob was color blind

Despite a Navy physician’s pronouncement that Lamprey must be rejected because he wouldn’t be able read the colored flags that signaled between ships – Tunney said ” I want him in” and overroad the physician.

A total of just 40 such trainers were selected nationwide, and Lamprey was shipped to Norfolk, VA., to learn the tricks of his new trade before reporting for duty at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois.

Tunney bet on the right horse, and Lamprey went on to become a Chief Petty Officer training legions of sailors. Today the walls of his Center Harbor home are covered with photographs of a smiling Lamprey seated front and center among hundreds of newly trained recruits. Ironically, one photo of a graduating class was taken the same day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor launching America’s entry into World War II. Another photo taken at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center shows trainees battling giant oil-fueled fires. Honing sailors’ firefighting skills Lamprey said helped many young men survive the war. Despite his visual impairment, Lamprey went to sea. He served in the Pacific Theater including on the island of Sipan.

Following war Lamprey returned to the Lakes Region and decided his interrupted career, as a teacher didn’t pay.

Teaming up with his older brother Stewart who had just been discharged from the Army, the pair began dabbling in real estate in 1945, and then expanded to sell insurance. Some 60 + years later, Lamprey, is still marketing real estate and being recognized for his many contributions to the Lakes Region. Their first office was located out in front of the family home in Moultonborough. But the pair soon decided the quite town wouldn’t offer enough revenue to sustain two new families. They moved the business to Laconia, into a lakeside building now home to Paugus Bay Sporting Goods.

Known for wearing his trademark Stetson cowboy hat, Lamprey’s daughter, Mary Lamprey Bare recounted the tradition began when her parents traveled west in 1975 to attend her graduation from Oklahoma State University. The ceremonies were held in the school’s football stadium and the bulk of the crowd were wearing cowboy hats.

Lamprey told his late wife, Peg, they should purchase hats and bring some back for their employees and a tradition was born. While the initial hats were made of straw and purchased at a feed store, Peg Lamprey decided if Bob was to have his hat in his hands it should be a good one and ordered him a Stetson. The hat has since become part of the company’s advertising logo and Mary concedes her father has worn out a closet full of them and also presented them to various people as a sign of his admiration and respect.

Most recently, Lamprey gifted Florence Randall, the late sister of baseball legend Red Rolfe a native of Penacook who played shortstop and third base for the New York Yankees in the mid-30s. Randall was related to LPGA champion Jane Blaylock who Lamprey recently convinced to donate memorabilia to benefit the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center, which Lamprey helped found.

Over the years, Lamprey has been awarded the Silver Beaver, the highest honor presented by the Boy Scouts of America. He and a group of volunteers joined forces to raise a quarter of a million dollars in the mid- 70s to buy what was to become the Hidden Valley Scout Reservation, a permanent camping area for scouts in Gilmanton Iron Works. Bob and his brother Stewart have also raised money for other altruistic causes including the American Red Cross, the United Way and every conservation organization in the Lakes Region.

“They were a deadly team. I know,” Mary said of the duo’s fund-raising efforts. Stewart went on to become both the Speaker of the New Hampshire House and the President of the Senate. Bob Lamprey has also been honored as a “Loon Ranger” for his effort to help the threatened birds and served as president of the Belknap Mill Society. He has also been named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Meredith Rotary Club and presented with a Citizenship Award by the Meredith Area Chamber of Commerce. The National Association of Realtors has also named him a Realtor Emeritus for serving as a member since 1947. Although Lamprey’s mother died while he was in the Navy, she had urged him to improve local education for children. Lamprey served 15 years as a selectman in Moultonborough and in 1949 proposed scuttling the one-room schoolhouse in favor of the Moultonborough Central School. He was later instrumental in getting the Winnipesaukee River Basin Project to install its sewer line through Center Harbor, helping protect the lake.

Lamprey’s legacy, his daughter says, is his dedication to teaching area youth. He taught and coached generations of youngsters in sports ranging from baseball to swimming. Among his fondest memories are accompanying the Belknap College baseball team to Manchester.

“We won some and lost some. But we were a 500 team,” he said smiling.

His daughter, who now manages Lamprey & Lamprey Real Estate, said hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t cross paths with a fellow broker who tells her that while they may have never worked with her father they learned something from him.

While today, brokers usually limit their sales and listing activities to one area, the elder Lamprey started in sales at a time when the entire state was fair game. During car trips, Mary said her father never ceases to amaze her with his vast knowledge of New Hampshire even recalling the names of the smallest of streams.

Bob Lamprey loves maps and has dozens of them of depicting both the state and various portions of the region framed and hanging on the walls of his office.

He concedes he knows where he has been and unlike his fabled grandfather he has no aversion to going back.

Citizen Profile

20 Questions:

1. Full name; “people know you as …” Robert J. Lamprey Jr., “Bob”

2. Date & place of birth? December 21, 1917, Dorchester, MA.

3. Occupation? Real estate broker

4. How long have you lived in the area? 81 years

5. Who was your most influential role model? Grandmother Georgina Campbell the nation’s first female golf professional.

6. Favorite place to go, favorite trip, favorite hike? Boating on Lake Winnipesaukee

7. Favorite local business? Lamprey & Lamprey Real Estate

8. Favorite food? Ice cream, spaghetti and haddock.

9. Favorite book? Winnipesaukee, written by E. Palmer Clarke in 1935. Also enjoys books on military history especially those about the Civil War

10. Favorite movie? The Greatest Game Ever Played

11. What do you waste your money on? Art depicting American Indians and antique golf memorabilia

12. What was the dumbest thing you ever did? Declined my fathers’ cousin’s offer to swap his Tuftonboro farm with hundreds of acres of property for my modest home in Moultonborough. I was working in Laconia and decided it was too far to travel.

13. What is your fondest memory? Coaching the Belknap College baseball team.

14. What item that is no longer available would you like to see return? I don’t know

15. What do you think makes the Lakes Region a good place to live? The mountains and the lake of course are special.

16. If you could change one thing about the Lakes Region, what would it be? I’m pretty happy with the way things are.

17. If you could change one thing about the state, nation, or world, what would it be? I’m content.

18. If you were to try any profession for a day, what would it be? I never really thought about it.

19. If you won the lottery, what would you do? I don’t buy the tickets.

20. What would you like to be remembered for? Dedication to teaching youth in the classroom and on the playing field.

ED. Bob, you’ll be remembered for that and MUCH MORE by all Belknapians.