Ned Eldredge

May 8, 1954 - March 18, 2023

Edward Rice “Ned” Eldredge

May 8, 1954 – March 18, 2023

Machias, Maine

Ned (Edward Rice) Eldredge was born on May 8, 1954, in Boston, Mass., and died at age 68 in the same city on March 18, 2023.

Two-plus years ago, Ned was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a condition which prevents bone marrow from making blood. Fortunately, Ned had a donor match in his sister, Ra, and he received a stem cell transplant in 2020 and a T-cell transplant in 2021.  Although the combined procedures were successful and gave Ned two more years of life, his body—especially his lungs— reacted harshly to the foreign cells over time. On March 14, Ned was airlifted from Maine to Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. On March 18, he passed very peacefully in his wife’s arms, with his two sisters by his side. 

In between Ned’s birth and death in Boston, he largely avoided metropolitan areas. When he was two years old, his family moved from Wayland, Mass., to family property in Peterborough, N.H. There, Ned had the freedom to pursue and excel at his many interests, including animal husbandry, agriculture, forestry, art, music, philosophy, politics, woodworking, building, boat building, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and sailing, as well as motorcycles, sports cars, and heavy equipment. Ned was a self-taught, lifelong learner, but he started his formal education at Peterborough Consolidated School, continued at North Country School in Lake Placid, N.Y., and explored farming and art at The Putney School in Vermont. When he was 17, he built his own house with the help of his girlfriend, Abbie Goodyear. He graduated high school from The Well School in Peterborough, N.H. (The local joke was that 100% of his graduating class of two went on to Harvard University.) 

However, Ned and cities were not simpatico. One semester in Boston was enough. He moved back to New Hampshire, added onto his house with his wife, Beth Blauman (Fensterwald), and started a construction company which specialized in unique timber frame and energy efficient/solar houses. Ned was a quintessential Yankee. He was famous for coming up with very elegant solutions for complicated problems—as well as coming up with unnecessarily complicated solutions for very simple problems. Ned greatly respected skills in others. Although he did have a very soft side, he was also known as a curmudgeon and was sparing in his compliments. Those who received them knew that they were very special indeed. 

Ned had a lifelong passion for conservation and economics. Many years after leaving Harvard, he and his second wife, Lisa Quinn Wagner (McClean), moved to Burlington, Vt., where he enrolled in the University of Vermont.  Following field work in Guyana and Suriname, Ned earned a B.S. in resource economics and appropriate technologies from UVM in 1990. Later, he returned to Peterborough with his girlfriend Martie Majoros, and worked in logging and construction while continuing his education. In 2003, he graduated magna cum laude from the UNH with a master of science in natural resources and the environment. Ned eventually moved to Machias, Maine with his third wife, Laurie, in pursuit of a simpler life with fewer people, rules, and regulations. Peterborough had (laughably) become too crowded for him. 

Beginning at age 15, Ned dedicated himself to ecologically sound logging and forestry management. Ned’s life was filled with the interconnectivity of things. For him, wood cut during a logging job might later be used in building houses, fine furniture, wooden boats or even an antique Bugatti car chassis. Perhaps the latter was because of its strong resemblance to a boat. His passion for boats began when he built his first kayak at age 10 at summer camp. Ned had many sailing adventures, including a sailing trip to the Caribbean via Bermuda on his 34-foot wooden sailboat, right after “The Perfect Storm.” The loss of his boom and LORAN antenna required all his ingenuity and dead-reckoning skills to eventually reach Bermuda. He purchased a very early GPS system shortly thereafter. Sailing gave Ned an escape from his workaholic nature. He was rarely more relaxed than when on the water, unless, of course, he was white-water rafting down the Colorado River.

Ned built dozens of houses, barns and various  projects in New Hampshire’s Monadnock and White Mountain regions, as well as in Down East Maine. His work can be seen in private homes, and in public at the rehearsal hall at the Peterborough Players, and renovated Noone Falls Mill. Ned continued to build and remodel houses, craft heirloom-quality furniture, and build wooden boats even after his diagnosis.

Ned believed in giving back to his communities with skilled labor, financial support, and time.  The Sharon Arts Center and the Peterborough Conservation Commission both benefited from Ned’s lengthy service on their boards. Ned was particularly proud of his joint rebuild of the famous Narrows Bridge, in Chocorua, NH for the Chocorua Lake Conservancy and he was very active with the Porter Memorial Library in Machias, ME.

 In February 2021, during the height of Covid and his medical treatments, Ned married his longtime girlfriend, Myles Grinstead, on the appropriately named Parson’s Beach in Kennebunk, Maine, in the presence of a small group of friends and family and their beloved hound, Stella. Myles, Stella, and a corgi puppy named Gwyn gave Ned incredible joy and comfort during his difficult last two and a half years.

Ned was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur Stuart Eldredge III and Roselle Mary Rice Eldredge, and his brother Thomas Motley Eldredge. He is survived by his beloved wife, Myles Grinstead; his three siblings, Arthur Stuart Eldredge IV, Joanna Eldredge Morrissey and her partner, Don Ganley, and Ra (Sarah) Eldredge and her husband, John Trautwein. Ned leaves five nieces and nephews and their families: Margaret Eldredge and her husband, Andres Ipus, and son Nico; Brianna Morrissey and her partner, Chris Raymond; Luke Trautwein and his wife, Jez, and their daughter Sophia; Lauren Morrissey; and Hannah Trautwein. In addition, he leaves many friends—old and new—whose lives were enhanced by knowing him.

The family wishes to thank the phenomenal medical team at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, led by Dr. Robert Soiffer. 

Celebrations of Life

To honor Ned’s request, there will be no funeral, but two celebrations of life will be held.

The first will be at Cold Comfort Farm, 512 Windy Row, Peterborough, NH, on June 3 at 1:30 p.m.

The second will be in Machias, Maine, at a date to be announced on the on-line memorial site.

Peterborough, NH

Date: June 3, 2023

Machias, ME

Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: TBD

 

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