Bob Kingsbury dies at 87; always a gentleman, he ran for state & local office 18 times and only won once

LACONIA — When, Bob Kingsbury was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2010 after running for governor, congressman, mayor, city councilor, state senator and state representative 16 times without success, he explained his both his earlier defeats and ultimate victory with a characteristic twinkle in his eye and wry smile on his lips by remarking, "I give credit to the voters for having good judgment."

Kingsbury passed away last weekend at the Maple Leaf Health Care Center in Manchester at the age of 87, following a brief illness.

While Kingsbury will be remembered for his many forays into politics — sometimes as a Republican and sometimes as a Libertarian but always with a very conservative position — he took greatest pride in his military service, which stretched over nearly three decades. Drafted in 1944 soon after finishing at Cleveland East Technical High School, he served as a rifleman in the Third Army commanded General George S. Patton. He fought in the Battle of Bulge as well as subsequent drive across Germany, earning a Purple Heart.

"My buddy and I were the only ones in our squad to survive," he recalled. "Most only lasted a day."

Discharged as a private first class, Kingsbury enrolled at the University of Maryland, graduating shortly after the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. He noted that his graduating class included a number of second lieutenants, commissioned after completing the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, who he doubted were prepared to lead men in combat."I knew I could do a better job," he said, "so I re-enlisted and went to officer candidate school." Although he quickly earned command of an infantry company, he was never posted to Korea, but remained in the reserve. In 1979, he retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

As a civilian, Kingsbury worked in sales and marketing, for B.F. Goodrich, the tire manufacturer, the Ethyl Corporation, a petroleum company and the American Collloid Company, a distributor of clay.

A exemplary marksman throughout his military career, Kingsbury said that he became interested in politics in 1962 by a proposal to replace the 30 caliber military rifle with a 22-caliber weapon. "It was haywire," he said.

Prior to his election, Kingsbury ran as Libertarian, but eventually left the party when he believed the national leadership was seeking to "dominate and control" the local organization. "Offically," he said, "I was always a Republican. In order to vote you must register as either a Republican or a Democrat. You can't register as a Libertarian." s

Meanwhile, he was active in the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers and Gun Owners of New Hampshire as well as a longtime member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and John Birch Society.

After losing his seat in the House in 2012, Kingsbury pursued his suspicions of voter fraud by personally writing, addressing and mailing letters to the 1,395 voters who registered of Election Day along with another 2,700 registered voters in the city. When 175 were returned as "undeliverable, " he conceded that the numbers would not have changed the outcome of the election. But, he claimed that for $2,000 in the cost of stationary, postage and copies of the checklist, to say nothing of his time and effort, "what I have done is to get it recorded that there is voter fraud."

A graveside committal with military honors will be held today at 10:30 a.m. at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetary in Boscawen, where Kingsbury will be buried.

Services will be held on Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Laconia Ward (1242 Old North Main Street) at 11 a.m.