Superman has Fallen: 
In Tribute to Hudson’s Nate Hergenhahn

by Maureen Gillum and Sue LaRoche

Nate’s dad, Ross Hergenhahn, came into the Hudson~Litchfield News office Tuesday morning looking lost and haggard; he clutched a plastic Superman cup and a shoe box overflowing with photos.  In total grief, he came to remember and honor the life of his son, cut short by a car accident on Old Derry Road in Hudson last Sunday night.  He also came to send a key message, from Nate to other teenagers, in the hopes of avoiding some future tragedies. 

“Nathan took excellent care of himself,” explained his dad.  Ross detailed he never drank alcohol (Nate and his ‘Fab 4’ training buddies were adamantly against it) or even soda; he avoided sweets (all except his annual birthday cake, which he thoroughly savored and devoured); he was a real fitness and nutrition fanatic (he aimed to go into the health fitness field); and he always wore his seat belt.  

“As much as he did, it just wasn’t enough,” lamented Ross, “He did everything right, except being in a fast car that went out of control for just a moment.” 

Nate summer 2006.

Ross shared that he and his son always had a “very special bond.”  For years, Ross coached Nathan’s AAU basketball team.  “We learned a lot from each other and I’ve always greatly admired the way he lived his life and took things on,” shared ‘Coach Ross’ in reflection. Nate had recently shared with him he felt “invincible” after a football scrimmage a few weeks ago.  Too often, kids think they are immune to death and danger.  In Nathan’s memory, Ross is here to painfully remind them, they are not.  Ironically, “I just told Nate, that no one is invincible,” admited Ross quietly.  In just a second, even a strong athlete and powerful lifeforce like Nate’s can be extinguished. 

Nathan Hergenhahn was born in Houston, Texas, on July 24, 1990, and lived his early life in Katy, Texas.  The “sleepless wonder,” was quite ill with chronic ear infections most of his first two years.  Nate was a shy, quiet, “perfect kid” with diverse interests spanning from basketball, mopeds, football and Harry Potter.  He moved from Texas to Hudson, New Hampshire in 2001, making fast pals with many of his best friends today.  While his first love was basketball, in recent years he was better known and built for football.  He worked hard and was humble.  Superman wouldn’t tolerate bullying.  He was funny, well liked and respected.  As one teammate cited, “Nate made # 32 the jersey to want to be in.”  He was a remarkable athlete, good student, and an excellent, son, brother and friend.

In talking to friends and family, Nate’s life comes into focus.  Full of dichotomies – he was described as “beautiful yet powerful;” “tough and compassionate;” “a fierce and relentless competitor with a soft and gentle heart.”  Gannon reflects sadly, “We’re just going to miss everything about him – his smile, his laugh, his dirty jokes; even us goofing around singing Maroon 5 love songs on the bus ride home to cheer up our teammates after getting wiped on the football field.”

“Nate was all about family and friends” related his distraught mom, Patty Cyr of Hudson.  “I want people to know the Nate that I had at home, not just the tough, focused player that they saw on the field or court.”  Smiling through her grief, she described Nate as “a really good natured kid…he used to love to hide in the house and yell boo to ‘scare’ and get me every time.”  He was a 16-year-old boy who hugged and kissed his Mom, every morning when he got up, and every night before he went to bed.  “How many kids can you say do that?” asked Patty.  “Nate had the mentality of an adult and the heart of a child,” recalled his mom lovingly. 

“Nate simply worshipped his mom; and he was her world,” echoed Cassie Purcell, Nate’s aunt who has been at her sister’s side since the accident.  Due to get his driver’s license on August 2, the 29th anniversary of his grandmother’s death, he opted to change the date, without being asked, in honor of his beloved mom and grandmother.  “He was just such a great and caring kid with so much to offer…I know my sister loved her ‘mutton chops’ more than life itself.”  

Jay, Nate’s 19-year-old brother, fondly remembered their trip to Aruba last April.  “We went parasailing, 4-wheeling, and just hung out for the entire week—it was great!”  Jay reflects how Nate would often come home and tell him all about his day at school, his workouts, and how he loved peer mentoring.  “Even though Nate was my younger brother, I really looked up to him,” shared Jay.  “He was really dedicated and I am so proud of him.”

Nate’s girlfriend of two years, Ally Lemieux, admitted she initially “fell for his muscles; We knew each other since middle school, but we really got to know each other in health class freshman year.”  As a couple they enjoyed movies, sporting events, skiing, concerts, and going out to dinner.  “But what I loved most of all, was just snuggling with him; curling up and watching a movie at his house,” shared Ally, still wearing the sterling silver ring Nate gave her, “It was the best two years of my life and my first true love.”  Ally’s parents, Marianne and Mark, thought of him as “the son they never had” and “just can’t picture Ally without him.”

Two of his closest pals, the second half of the ‘Fab 4,’ Mike Cardin and Stu Gannon are also forever touched by Nate.  Stu considered Nate his “best friend and brother.”  “Coach Nibs gave us our ‘Fab 4’ nickname freshman year, because we did most everything together like training, lifting and hanging out,” Stu explained, “Through Nate’s inspiration, we also pledged to not drink or smoke.”  The four constantly competed and had fun to bring out the best in each other.  “Nate was my best friend for life,” Cardin simply stated, “I loved that kid.” 

AHS Head Football Coach Bob Nimblett explained, “Nate played a year of freshman football and in the second game of his sophmore season (last year) was remarkably bumped up to starting running back for the varsity squad.”  He was “my hardest worker on the field, at practice and in the weight room,” recalled Coach Nibs, but beyond athletics.  “He was also fabulous at being a quiet leader, letting his actions speak louder than his words.”  

“Nate went way out of his way to help many younger athletes,” observed a family friend, Mary Donnelly.  “He encouraged a real mentoring attitude at Alvirne” that became contagious. 

Stu Gannon added, “Nate kept so many of us from doing lots of stupid stuff;” never by any “loud lectures,” but rather through his well-lived beliefs and convictions.  

“Alvirne’s athletic programs (football and basketball) have suffered a tremendous loss,” Coach Nibs solemnly concluded, “When the Alvirne Broncos football team takes the field this season, we will have a special tribute to Nate.” 

Sharing a photo of a much younger Nate in Superman garb, his dad smiled wearily, “Nathan not only wore the costume and drank from his Superman cup for years, but he truly believed he was Superman.”  Physically, he grew to have the “body of a body builder, and the sweet, loving, face of an angel.”  He fully embraced life and came to embody much of what Superman truly represents – he was a friend to many and was never afraid to stand up for what was right or fight peer pressure.  

“Nate and his ‘Fab 4’ always seemed to be on the side of the underdog” related Patty, thoughtfully, “He was a big muscle man with a soft and tender side.”  Among the personal tributes left at the growing memorial at the Old Derry Road accident site is a touching sign that captures it succinctly: “Superman has Fallen.”

Nate loved his sports, his family, friends and his old dog, Bear.  Frequently, he would gather his buddies for a friendly poker game or encourage his squad to excel.  “Nate was an amazing asset to society and why he had to be taken so soon is unclear right now,” reflected mom, Patty Cyr.  “Perhaps he loved his family and friends so much; he died so that he could watch over all of us.”  “I just thank God for all Nate gave to me and so many others,” shared his dad, Ross.  “I hope to be just like him when I grow up.” 

Carrying the ball, 2005 Thanksgiving Day game.

Alvirne High School, and the entire Hudson community, mourns the loss of a remarkable 16 year old, who left friends and loved ones behind with much promise and inspiration.  Amid many close family and friends, Nate Hergenhahn was laid to final rest on Friday morning, August 4, in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Hudson.  A friend, Dick Mahoney, shared of AHS’ #32, “Death might have taken Nate from us.  But his zeal for life…the love he had for his family and friends...the love they will always have for him...that will never die...and in fact that love for life will shine brighter and stronger than ever before.”  

A teammate, Taylor Terrio, perhaps captured Nate’s essence best: “The Lord never made a better soul, gentleman at heart, competitor in spirit, champion in body, and a role model for all.”

See submitted tributes at

Tragic Car Crash Sunday Claims Life of 16-year-old

by Maureen Gillum and Sue LaRoche

Firefighters work to extricate the vehicle off the road.

It was an unspeakable accident and the nightmare of every teenage parent.  The seemingly normal visit with a friend turned disastrous this past Sunday night, July 30, as one of Hudson’s finest young men had his life tragically cut short; the result of a fatal two-car accident on Old Derry Road near Nadeau’s farm.  Two inseparable longtime Hudson friends – Nathan Hergenhahn and Michael Munoz -- half of Alvirne’s infamous “Fab 4” -- were doing what they often did…riding home after playing a sociable game of poker at a friend’s house when, in an instant, Nate’s life was snuffed out. 

Hergenhahn was riding in Munoz’s 1990 Nissan 300ZX when the car apparently went out of control and careened into an oncoming 2000 Ford Explorer.  While alcohol was ruled out, “speed was believed to be a contributing factor,” according to Hudson police.  Though wearing a seatbelt, Nate was pronounced dead on the scene shortly after 9:30 pm. Alvirne’s star varsity football fullback and basketball power forward had just celebrated his 16th birthday the previous Monday; he never made it to his junior year. 

Nate leaves behind a devastated family, including his mom and stepfather, Patricia (Cutler) and Brian Cyr of Hudson; Dad, Ross Hergenhahn of Nashua; an 18-year-old brother, Jay; a sister, Rachel Williams (Houston, TX) and first niece, Kera, just born July 6; and an “old mutt,” named Bear, that he slept with most of his life.  He will also be sorely missed by the two others of his “Fab 4” (Stu Gannon and Mike Cardin); girlfriend, Ally Lemieux; along with Max Mahoney, Tim Cox, Katie Hanlon, and countless others on and off the field.  A teammate aptly reflected, “He will always be loved and missed as Our Superman.”

Surviving the accident, the 16-year-old driver of the Nissan, Michael Munoz, was said to have “shattered his jaw” and was in tough shape from the accident, reports best friend, Stu Gannon.  He underwent surgery on August 1, according to his mom, Claudia Ramirez of Hudson.  Though still on a respirator, “his operation today was successful,” Gannon later reported optimistically, “Mike’s a real fighter who never quits; he’ll make it through.”  Munoz remains in “critical, but stable condition,” at Children’s Hospital in Boston...with lots of prayers for his recovery. 

While devastated by their loss, Hergenhahn’s family holds no animosity against Mike Munoz, long considered one of Nate’s best friends.  “I’m certain Nate wants Mike to know that he is, and always will be, there to support him, as we all are,” shared Nate’s Dad, Ross Hergenhahn, who visited Mike in the hospital Tuesday.  “Eventually, it sounds like Mike will be OK, but he has multiple serious injuries and a long road ahead of him,” remarked Ross, “He’s a strong, healthy boy; Claudia is a loving mother.”

Thankfully, the driver of the white Ford SUV, Hudson’s Kellie Carlin, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter, Courtney Cortez are doing reasonably well.  Both in seatbelts, Kellie Carlin sustained minor injuries, including a broken hand; both were observed, treated, and released from Southern NH Regional Medical Center in Nashua, according to police logs.  Carlin also wrote a gracious editorial letter to the Hudson~Litchfield News to thank all who helped at the accident; offer condolences regarding Nate and prayers for Mike; and to make a plea to all young drivers to “please, please…slow down…please.”

“When I got the call from Coach Conrad, I was devastated,” shared Alvirne Head Football Coach, Bob Nimblett, somberly.  AHS coaches came right into the school to be there for any of the kids that needed to talk. “These kids really looked up to Nate,” shared Coach Nibs.  “He inspired so many and was well liked by everyone.”   

“These kids (AHS sports) are all extremely close; they’ve grown up with each other and are wired together in a huge support system,” shared a close friend’s dad, John Cardin.  “That’s why this is hitting us all so hard.”  Nate was also extraordinary.  As a way to cope and keep that support system together, an impromptu vigil at the accident site on Monday night drew a couple of hundred friends and family to pray for Mike and honor Nate.  People left numerous mementos and tributes -- everything from sports jerseys, flowers and candles to pictures, notes, and 100-pound bar bell with “girl curls” written on it.  Perhaps most poignant, a handwritten sign simply stated, “Superman has Fallen.” 

Urging Safety among Young Drivers

This is Kellie Carlin, the driver of the Ford Explorer in the accident on Old Derry Road.  I have some injuries, including a broken hand, but I will be okay.  My 13 year old daughter is good. 

I would like to say thank you to the young girl who stopped first and made calls for me, the young man who stopped second and got my door open by brute force because it wouldn't open, and to both of them for helping my daughter and I out of the truck.

I’d also like to thank the police, fire, and paramedics who all responded. 

My heart goes out to the parents who lost their child and those still keeping vigil.  

To all young drivers-please slow down … please.

Kellie Carlin - Hudson

Hudson~Litchfield News Readers:  The Caravan to Freedom story, due to its length will appear in two parts.  As I began to do research for this project, the story of Queenie and Liz took on a life of its own.  It started at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm back in 1987 and ended with their rescue by the efforts of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.  This story was as fascinating to write as it was to read and learn about the two very special Hudson residents.  Part II will run in next week’s edition.  Doug Robinson

Caravan to Freedom …

The Story of Two Elephants

by Doug Robinson

As citizens of the United States, we are protected under the freedoms stated in the Bill of Rights.  Animals, however, do not share these same benefits.   While most domestic pets, such as cats, dogs, and even turtles receive the proper care of cleaning, attention and medicine, many animals are not so fortunate.  Wild animals such as lions, tigers, and bears (oh my) are not protected.  Elephants also fall into this category.

For many years, the town of Hudson was the home to two Asian elephants:  Queenie and Liz.  These two elephants stole the hearts of children and entertained adults for many years while living and performing at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in Hudson.   

However, when the park closed it doors in 1987, the lives of both Queenie and Liz changed forever.  Their daily routine of nutrition, health care, exercise, entertainment, and sociability ended.  These fundamentals for a happy life of these two elephants ended as they became the property of the Hawthorne Corporation.

Queenie arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary.

“A complete act, one African, and two Asian elephants, Liz, Queenie, and Jackie II, were sold for $65,000 to the Hawthorne Corporation, a company that furnishes animal acts for many of the indoor and Shrine Circuses throughout the country.” wrote Bob Goldsack in his book, Remembering Benson’s Wilds Animal Farm.

Since 1987, Liz and Queenie have lived performers’ lives.  As an “employee” of the Hawthorne Corp., these elephants were rented to circuses and entertainment organizations.  John Cuneo, owner of the Hawthorne Corp., had made a business out of using elephants for entertainment purposes for more than 35 years.  Hawthorne’s elephants were required to do tricks and stunts that “entertained” the public.  

Videos of the Hawthorne organization show various trainers whipping elephants in an effort to have the elephant perform tricks such as standing on their heads, standing on their two front feet, and raising their rear feet in the air.  Barbed chains can be seen hitting the elephants as trainers force them to perform other tricks such as standing on their heads.  All this was done in the name of entertainment.

Court documents from The Humane Society of the United States in 2004 reflect, “The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has brought the Hawthorne Corporation before a USDA administrative judge in Washington, D. C.  Hawthorne, one of the larger suppliers of performing elephants and tigers in the country, had been charged with numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including serious charges such as mishandling that caused physical harm, discomfort, and trauma to the elephants and created a risk for both elephants and the public.”

The information received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that “John Cuneo has been repeatedly cited for animal care violations, particularly in his unwillingness to provide proper veterinary care for his animals.  Numerous instances of obvious neglect, causing his elephant’s pain and suffering, were documented by the USDA traveling and performing in circuses.”

Liz arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary.

As a result of the lawsuit filed by the USDA, John Cuneo was to “voluntarily relinquish all 16 of his elephants, and pay a $200,000 fine.”  In his March 2004 court agreement, Cuneo agreed to place his elephants in other facilities.  Because the Hawthorne elephants have lived together for decades separating them would not be possible as it would cause extreme emotional trauma.

The USDA also stated. “This herd represents a wealth of information regarding the life-threatening diseases that plague captive elephants.  They are known as the “TB Herd” because tuberculosis has been documented in the herd for nearly a decade.  Kept together, much could be learned through non-invasive research which would benefit these elephants, and potentially many captive elephants around the world.”  Cuneo was ordered to place all 16 elephants in his herd into USDA-approved facilities.  The Elephant Sanctuary, located 650 miles away in Hohenwald, Tennessee, was chosen to receive some of the Hawthorne herd, including Liz and Queenie.

The Elephant Sanctuary, founded in 1995, “is the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge for Asian and African elephants.  As the United States’ first elephant refuge, it is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, designed specifically for old, sick, or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses.  These female elephants neither breed nor do they perform or entertain the public” stated the Wikipedia free encyclopedia.

Per the agreement with the Hawthorne Corp., Liz and Queenie had found a new home.

“Dubbed the ‘Caravan to Freedom,’ these ex-circus elephants will travel in a custom-built, chain-free trailer donated and specially refurbished by UPS.  The elephants will travel in pairs according to which have formed the closest friendships” stated Animal World.  Their new home was going to be “a natural habitat refuge where sick, old, and needy elephants can once again walk the earth in peace and dignity” at the Elephant Sanctuary.

Check back in next week’s Hudson~Litchfield News for the conclusion of Caravan to Freedom, the story of two elephants.

For more information on Liz and Queenie, visit

Old No. 7 to Perform at Old Home Days

Hudson’s own “Old No. 7” band seems to make an impression everywhere they play. 

It’s no wonder considering all the members of Old No. 7 band are seasoned veterans of the business.  The band consists of Craig Mello, lead vocals and guitar; Steve Gove, lead guitar and vocals; Dennis Wells, bass; Rodney Blais, drums; and Steve Noel, lead vocals, harmonica, percussion.  All of these guys have been playing in the southern New Hampshire area for the past 20 to 25 years, and have done so with much success.

Formed in the fall of 2004 by Mello and Gove, Old No. 7 was intended to be a very part-time project.  “I just wanted to get together with old friends, play great music, and have fun doing it,” said Mello, and that’s just what these guys do: play great music and have fun.

The Old No. 7 band’s repertoire is quite vast.  They cover everything from “Margaritaville” to “Born to be Wild” and everything in between.  Trying to label this band is difficult.  They seem to do it all … rock, blues, funk, R&B, country … everything, and do it well.  “I don’t like to be labeled as just a rock band,” said Wells.  “We all have different musical influences and you can hear these influences in our overall sound.  Steve is really into the jam-band scene and encourages all of us to stretch it out as much as we can … to show off our chops, so to speak.”

Seeing the Old No. 7 band can be quite adventurous.  They always seem to be mixing up the set-list (if they actually have one!), changing song arrangements on the spot, throwing T-shirts into the crowd, joking around, yet hypnotizing their audience with their unique sound.  “It’s funny to see Steve (Noel) throw percussion instruments into the crowd during the show … to get them involved as well,” said Blais, “Everyone really gets into it.” 

Join in the fun at Old Home Days where Old No. 7 will be appearing under the tent in the “Saloon” throughout the weekend.

Taser Used on Distraught Man by Hudson Police Officer

On July 28 at approximately 11:30 p.m., the Hudson Police Department responded to a residence of a distraught male subject threatening to harm himself with a knife.  Officers located a male subject inside the home holding a knife to his throat, threatening to take his own life.  Officers attempted to negotiate with the subject.  Negotiations with the subject were failing as the subject became more distraught.

An officer deployed the taser, causing the subject to drop the knife, and giving the officers the opportunity to subdue the subject.  The subject was apprehended without injury and without injury to the officers.  The subject was then transported to a local hospital for psychological evaluation.

Hudson Scouts and Conservation Committee Join Forces in Town-wide Trash Pick up

Hudson area Cub Scouts joined together with the Girls Scouts and the Conservation Committee in a town-wide trash pick up.  These young Scouts learned about civic responsibility and environmental protection while having lots of fun.  

Pictured are Tyler Bergeron, Seth Holt, Benjamin Royston and Den Leader Scott Royston.  

Be a part of building strong citizenship in area youth.  Contact any of the outstanding Cub Scout Packs and Girl Scout Troops in Hudson.  Information will be available during the first days of school.

Do You Know How your Property was Appraised?

by Lynne Ober

In general all appraisal companies use the same methodology.  A town-wide revaluation begins with a careful assessment of existing property and requires a lot of detailed research and digging for facts to accumulate for a good appraisal.

The property tax is part of a well-balanced revenue system.  It is a more stable source of money than other sources because it doesn’t fluctuate during recessions.

In theory when the town spends tax dollars on better schools, parks, and so on, property values rise.  With so much of New Hampshire towns’ budgets dependent upon property taxes, the state requires that property evaluations be kept current.

To find the value of any piece of property the assessor must know what similar properties are selling for, what their replacement value would be, what it takes to maintain and, if rented, what value it would bring.

Properties are then evaluated using one of three methods:  the sales approach, the income approach or the cost approach.  In theory each method will yield approximately the same answer.

Assessors evaluate each individual piece of property.  They measure the outside of the structure, look at items such as central air conditioning, age of building, type of heat, and type of construction.  They are not supposed to evaluate a building on how well the interior is painted or carpeted, but the reality is that any building that is well maintained makes a much better impression and has a much higher value.

Sometimes a “view” tax is applied.  If a building is in an especially desired location, it is taxed more than if it was next to a busy road.  This is known as the view tax.

Once an appraisal is done, there is a period of adjustments and questions.  If you want to know the specifics about how your property was appraised, contact the appraisal company and ask for an appointment to discuss how they arrived at that figure.

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