David L. Nixon
Sadly, our beloved founder and longtime leader left us for a more important practice on November 1, 2014. His legacy lives on in the lives of the many thousands of individuals he helped throughout his more than 50 years practicing law as well in the countless young attorneys he mentored over the years. What follows is the obituary David, himself, wrote some time before his death. Every word, and every comma, is his. Thanks, David, for “using your head.”
He was born in Concord, Mass., on March 19, 1932, the son of Louis G. Nixon Jr. and Alice W. Williams. After graduating from Leominster, Mass., High School in 1949, and Wesleyan University in 1953, he volunteered for U.S. Army service in Korea, but his plans changed after a training mishap, leaving him blind in one eye. On receiving his honorable discharge from the Army, he attended the University of Michigan Law School, graduating with honors in 1958, as a member of the Barristers Honor Society and president of his class.
He began his law career with what was then McLane, Carleton, Graf, Greene & Brown in 1958 until 1961. He then was invited to practice with John W. King, and managed the practice as King and Nixon while Atty. King served as Governor of New Hampshire, 1963-68. In 1976, Atty. Nixon rejoined the late Stanley M. Brown in the practice of law, as Brown & Nixon, P.A., until 1993 when he founded his own law firm with Robert E. Raiche Sr. at 77 Central St. in Manchester. The firm is now known as Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau, P.A.
During his law career, Atty. Nixon earned many honors and awards, including serving as president of the New Hampshire Bar Association and as cofounder and the first president of the New England Bar Association. He was also president of the Manchester Bar Association and the International Society of Barristers. He received the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award and its Frank R. Kenison Award “for distinguished service to the public and to the profession of law.” He had also received the NHBA’s award for pro bono work on behalf of abused mothers and children.
In 1965, Atty. Nixon was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the New Hampshire Bar Association, serving in that capacity until 1968, when he resigned to run for the New Hampshire Legislature. During that time he learned of the concept of a unified bar association, based on his study of the Wisconsin Bar Association. Resultantly, he initiated the effort to unify the New Hampshire Bar Association in order to improve its service to the public through a more effective legislative program, a fairer and more effective disciplinary program, and through an improved education program, assisted in this effort by the late Frederick K. Upton as president and the late Stanley M. Brown as president-elect of the Association.
Nixon successfully guided the Association’s membership through informational meetings, a referendum, and wrote the Brief and argued for the unified bar concept to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, resulting in an Order establishing the New Hampshire Bar Association as a unified, as opposed to voluntary, group, requiring all lawyers to contribute to and participate in its educational, disciplinary and public service efforts. He also established the Bar Association’s first “New Lawyers’ Seminar” program, to assist new members of the Bar in meeting their professional obligations.
As president of the Manchester Bar Association, he established the “Chester C. Eaton Scholarship Program,” under which carefully selected students at Manchester’s four high schools – three public and one private – are honored with scholarships to encourage them to further pursue their educations. The late Atty. Eaton, a well-accomplished musician, sportsman and student of the law, had served the Manchester Bar Association for more than 40 years as its treasurer and role model for young lawyers. Also, as president of the Manchester Bar Association, Atty. Nixon, along with his long-time friend, the late and greatly-respected retired federal judge, Martin F. (“Marty”) Loughlin, set up a “Committee to Do the Right Thing,” whose purpose was to assist lawyers with legal, personal, health and other kinds of difficulties; and thus assist and protect their clients and their careers.
As to public service, Atty. Nixon served for more than 30 years as town counsel for the town of New Boston, until 1992, his eldest child, Atty. Leslie C. Nixon, serving successfully in that capacity to the present time. As pro bono counsel to the New Boston School District, Atty. Nixon also drafted in the 1960s the first “A.R.E.A. Agreement,” whereby the school districts of New Boston (whose high school closed in 1965), Goffstown and Dunbarton joined together to improve educational opportunities for their students and reduce costs to their taxpayers.
Atty. Nixon was also honored for his service of 40 years, along with former governor Hugh Gregg, as chair of the Hillsborough County Law Association’s Scholarship Committee. His legislative career extended from 1969 to 1974, and again from 2009 to 2010. In 1969, he was honored as New Hampshire’s Outstanding First Year Legislator, and was the principal legislative speaker supporting then-Gov. Walter Peterson’s efforts to make fairer and more effective the State of New Hampshire’s tax system. After election to the New Hampshire State Senate, and as the first bi-partisan president of that body during 1973 and 1974, Sen. Nixon initiated “Home Town Senate Sessions,” whereby meetings of the Senate were held in various New Hampshire towns and cities in order to better acquaint New Hampshire’s citizens with the legislative process in New Hampshire.
Also, his legislative career consistently involved leadership supporting real estate tax relief for the elderly and poor; increases in New Hampshire’s minimum wage; protection and improvement of firefighters’, law enforcement officers’, teachers’ and other public employees’ pensions and salaries; establishment of New Hampshire’s first consumer protection agency; equality of rights for women; to restrict auto insurance increases without public hearings; to limit welfare abuses; to make clearer and more honest voting and political campaign procedures (including eliminating “straight ticket voting”); to set ethical standards for legislators; to establish a “Bill of Rights” for mobile home owners; and to protect racing, real estate, and land development from criminal control.
Atty. Nixon was a certified member of the “Million Dollar Advocates Forum” and was voted by his fellow lawyers as “Trial Lawyer of the Decade” in 1998, and as New Hampshire’s best personal injury-trial lawyer in 2012. His extra-legal activities and achievements included a term as Commander of Sweeney Post No. 2 American Legion, and as a life member of the Disabled American Veterans. Along with Judge Loughlin, he was awarded the VFW’s Distinguished Service Award for assisting homeless veterans to find housing. He was also honored by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence for his service as a DOVE attorney, protecting the interests of abused mothers and children.
Atty. Nixon was asked by then-Mayor Bob Baines to lead an effort to raise public funds to improve the facilities and programs of Manchester’s William B. Cashin Senior Activity Center, which resulted in the raising of more than $750, 000 for this facility, which now has approximately 3, 636 members, and has an average of 175 members attending each day to improve and better enjoy their lives through participation in the center’s computer, craft, pool, ping pong and other programs set up to make their lives fuller and more enjoyable.
Atty. Nixon is survived by his wife, Patricia D. Nixon; his children, Atty. Leslie C. Nixon and her husband Atty, Lee C. Nyquist of New Boston and Manchester, his daughter Melanie D. Nixon, his daughter Atty. Wendy W. N. Branch and her husband Atty. BJ Branch, his son David L. Nixon Jr., his son Louis G. Nixon and his wife Trudy Nixon; his eldest granddaughter, Cecily Lee Danver, his granddaughter Christina N. Nyquist, his granddaughter, Carla J. Nyquist, his grandson Lincoln Nyquist, his granddaughter Linnea Nyquist, his grandson Jeremy Nixon, and his granddaughter Keira Nixon; and his stepchildren Michelle, Justine and Douglas Beaudoin. He was predeceased by his outstanding grandson, Clifford C. Nyquist, and by his daughter, Amie W. Nixon.