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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘A citizen in the truest sense’: State representative Sharon Nordgren remembered for her dedication to Hanover

State representative Sharon Nordgren died at age 80 during her 18th consecutive term as representative.

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On Feb. 10, state representative Sharon Nordgren, D-Grafton 12, died at age 80, according to the Valley News. At the time of her death, Nordgren was serving her 18th consecutive term as a representative, making her one of the longest-serving members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. 

Nordgren was born on Oct. 21, 1943 in Chicago and attended the University of Minnesota.  In 1972, she moved to Hanover with her husband, Richard Nordgren, who is a professor of pediatrics and neurology at the Geisel School of Medicine. Nordgren is survived by her husband and their two children. 

In 1988, Nordgren served her first term in the state House of Representatives, representing Grafton County’s 12th District. Throughout her career, Nordgren served as a longtime member of the House Finance Committee, which is responsible for considering all subjects related to the financial interests of the state. 

Nordgren is remembered for her “tireless advocacy” and “the warmth and kindness she extended to all who crossed her path,” according to an obituary published on Feb. 12. The contributions of Nordgren to her state were “profound,” the obituary stated. 

State representative Laura Telerski, D-Hillsborough, wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that she felt “lucky” to have worked with Nordgren. 

“She helped make the long days pass with a whispered joke, sliding me a piece of candy and answering every one of my many questions,” Telerski wrote. “Sharon was a true dynamo and the Democratic House Caucus will remember her service to the people of Hanover and the state for many years to come.”

According to past reporting by The Dartmouth, Nordgren opposed a statewide bill signed by Gov. Chris Sununu in 2021 that restricted abortion access and limited the inclusion of critical race theory in school curriculums. 

“Throughout her career, she exemplified the highest ideals of leadership, compassion, and integrity, earning the respect and admiration of colleagues and constituents alike,” the obituary stated.

Nordgren is remembered by many of her former colleagues for her steadfast tenacity. In an email statement to The Dartmouth, Dartmouth government professor and state representative Russell Muirhead, D-Grafton 12, wrote that Nordgren understood politics and was devoted to public service.

“[Politics is] the difficult and long process of talking things out, building coalitions [and] hammering out compromises,” Muirhead wrote. “When building support for a project or proposal, [Nordgren] was at once charming and formidable.” 

Nordgren’s role as an experienced voice in the House brought comfort to many of her colleagues, according to state representative Susan Almy, D-Grafton 17. In an email statement to The Dartmouth, Almy wrote that she will remember Nordgren as a “reassuring and helpful” presence. 

“She was always available if I got stuck and would pop up on occasion to tell me I’d made a mistake and how to deal with it,” Almy wrote. “It is very hard to accept that she is no longer here.” 

State representative Jess Edwards, R-Rockingham, said that in 2022 Nordgren welcomed him to his role as Chairman of Finance Division III, which is a position that Nordgren previously held. 

“In all our interactions, she was polite, professional and gentle with me as I learned how to perform the role,” Edwards said. “She was quick to provide me with information and support every time I asked.”

According to the Valley News, Nordgren, who served as the chairwoman of the Hanover Selectboard before becoming a state representative, was a regular presence in the Hanover and Dartmouth communities.

“Sharon Nordgren was a citizen in the truest sense,” Muirhead wrote. “She was always fun to be with, a loyal friend and full of warmth. Her loss leaves a great void, both here in Hanover and in the State House.” 

Friends of Nordgren took to social media to share their condolences. In a recent post on X, formerly known as Twitter, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley wrote that he will remember Nordgren not only as a “legislative powerhouse” but also as a “great and loyal friend.” 

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan also took to X to share her memories of Nordgren.

“[I am] saddened by the passing of Sharon Nordgren, an indispensable leader who always fought for what’s right, and a dear friend of mine,” Hassan wrote. “Our state is a better place because of her service.”