GILFORD — The community is mourning the loss of long-time Planning Board Chair Polly Sanfacon who died over the weekend, after a period of declining health.
Yesterday, Sanfacon was being remembered by the many people who lives she touched through her volunteerism and her professional life as a paralegal with Wescott, Millham & Dyer in Laconia. (Now known as the Wescott Law.)
"I loved Polly," said Gilford Librarian Katherine Dormody, who recalled that Sanfacon was on the Board of Library Trustees that hired her in 2000.
Dormody said Sanfocon served as her confidant, mentor, and adviser when she first became the librarian. "She was always there to listen."
She said one of the things she admired most about Sanfacon was that she remained a "life-long learner" who was always interested in the world and embraced change rather than trying to ignore it.
Sanfacon spent 17 years of her professional life working with attorney Rodney "Rod" Dyer.
"We were devastated when we heard," he said, describing her as an integral part of the law firm. "She was well liked by the staff and the people we represented."
Dyer said Sanfacon really came into her own during the 1980s, when the two of them worked on the South Down Shores (Laconia) real estate project and the many residential condominiums projects and conversations that came to the Lakes Region during the building boom of that period.
"She really knew condominiums," he said.
Sanfacon served on the building committee that designed and built Gilford High School in the 1970s and, more recently, the building committee formed to build the new town library six years ago.
"I have a great picture of her and me standing in front of the garage they tore down," said Dormody.
"We're both wearing hard hats," Dormondy explained while noting that she is very tall and Polly was very short and the two of them standing next to each other in their hard hats presents a very comical image.
Twenty-five year veteran Planning Board member Jerry Gagnon said she was an "outstanding person" who did a "spectacular job".
Gagnon said the two of them didn't always agree on everything but she was so reasoned, prepared and precise that he always respected her opinion and her input.
"At the end of every meeting I would look at her and say "P(olly) S(anfacon), I love you," said Gagnon.
Former Selectman Alice Boucher said she was heartbroken from news of Sanfacon's death. They were colleagues through their volunteerism and friends.
Boucher recalled Sanfacon not only as someone who gave a lot to the town, but as someone who was a delight to be with. Both, she said, were members of the Gilford Yacht Club and she recalled how much Sanfacon enjoyed being outside.
Knowing how much she loved to go on walks, Boucher said she felt badly that Sanfacon was likely disheartened by her recent inability to spend time outside but, as was her style, would never complain about it.
She said that this past summer, Polly and her husband Leo spent less time at their home on Squam Lake and much more time at the club. "I am grateful for the time I got to spend with her last summer," Boucher said.
Planning Director John Ayer said Sanfacon had served on the Planning Board since 1998 and was on the board when he was hired. He said she was board chair from 2000 to 2010.
"She was outstanding," he said, echoing Dormody about how helpful she was when he first came to Gilford.
He said she was insightful and asked great questions. He also remarked that she was one of the most prepared Planning Board members he had ever seen.
"I can tell who reads the Planning Board staff reports and who doesn't," he said. "She did."
He also praised her knowledge and understanding of condominiums and the laws surrounding them. "You couldn't pull anything over on her," said Ayer.
Ayer said Sanfacon was still on the board as an alternate at the time of her death. He said she had told him that she was too ill to attend any more meetings and he convinced her to stay formally on the board.
He said his intention was that if she not seek another appointment when her term ended next month, the board and his staff would make a presentation to her thanking her for all she had done for them.
"I hope she knows how much we appreciated her," he said.
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