Fred Preston died on Friday, Oct 3, 2014, at age 84 surrounded by the love of his children and his wife of 48 years. Fred was a selfless, deliberate, and generous father and husband as well as an avid outdoors-man, innovative educator and an accomplished conservationist. He passed peacefully on a crisp sunny “mountain day” with the confidence that the many people he has touched were prepared to carry on without him. He will be remembered most for living a life in service of others.
Fred graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1949 and earned a BA and MA respectively from Williams College (’53) and Boston University (‘63). Fred devoted his professional efforts to education. After serving two years in the United States Air Force, Fred was a math teacher and a successful hockey/soccer/crew coach at Deerfield Academy, Belmont Hill School, and Needham High School in Massachusetts. He was a middle school principal at Needham Public Schools for 22 years where he pioneered an educational approach designed to help early adolescent students. He was nominated by peers to represent the New England region at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and went on to consult with schools all over New England to promote changes from junior high formats to middle schools.
Fred’s lifelong dedication to conservation started as a child. Growing up on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, Fred developed a love of the out-of-doors including hiking, backpacking, and canoing. Starting as crew member and later as Hutmaster for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Fred went on to become President of AMC in 1981-82. He served in leadership board positions at the Squam Lakes Association and Lakes Region Conservation Trust in central New Hampshire for almost 20 years. Protecting land was not enough; sharing landscapes with all was a central tenet of his work. He surprised many in the conservation community by purchasing land and facilitating the installation of a public boat ramp on the Squam River so everyone could enjoy Squam Lake.
More than anything, Fred was devoted to his family and to their success and happiness. Fred married Granthia Hoskins Lavery in 1966 and raised their three children (Brooks, Lynelle and Camille) in Wellesley, Mass. Every summer Fred took his young family backpacking, spending weeks at a time in the Canadian Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, the Grand Canyon and Austrian Alps. He used the wilderness as the classroom, teaching his family what it means to love one another and our planet. In what must have been a fulfilling reversal of roles, it was his kids who later took him and Granthia on similar journeys into the mountains – from the Himalayas, to Patagonia, Africa, SE Asia, New Zealand, and again to the Rocky Mountains in August of this year.
Fred is survived by his wife, Granthia; their three children; and five grandchildren (Sierra, Corben, Sage, Summer Thea & Preston); and his brothers, Phil and Dave.
A memorial service to celebrate Fred’s life will be held in early summer 2015. Donations honoring Fred may be made to the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, 156 Dane Road, Center Harbor NH 03226 or to a conservation or education organization of your choice.