CONWAY — The Mount Washington Valley lost a lion of a business and community leader last Saturday with the passing of 90-year-old real estate icon Dick Badger, founder of Badger Realty of North Conway, Jackson and Berlin.
His son Dr. Angus Badger confirmed his father had undergone heart surgery last Thursday at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and died two days later.
“We want to thank Dad’s cardiologist, Dr. Mylan Cohen, and the staffs of Memorial (Hospital in North Conway) and Maine Medical for his care,” said Dr. Badger, of Jackson.
Scott Badger, co-owner of Lupine Pet of East Conway, said of his dad, “I never saw him put himself ahead of anybody else. He gave more than can be measured to more people than can be counted.”
Brenda Leavitt, general manager of Badger Realty, said she and her husband Rich Leavitt visited Badger at Maine Medical prior to his surgery and on July 12, the day after the surgery.
“When we visited Dick on the eve of the surgery, he was sitting there, being Dick. He was talking and asking what projects we had lined up next,” a tearful Leavitt said Monday, calling Badger her friend, mentor and surrogate dad.
She said despite his being in declining health recently, Badger — who founded Badger Realty in 1965 — continued to come to the office one or more days a week.
Six months ago, Leavitt said, he finally agreed to move his office to one on the first floor (to his original office, where he interviewed Leavitt about coming aboard in 1981).
“Although the last few months, he might come in a few hours, maybe one or two days a week, I can assure you he was at home working on his computer, answering emails,” said Leavitt.
Even when he didn’t come in, she said they would talk every day. “I would seek his advice, or we would address a problem or talk of good things, and he’d ask me how many listings we had. But no, he was never retired; he used to say, ‘I want my paycheck the first of the month, and I’ve got to earn it!’”
Growing up in Massachusetts, Badger’s love of skiing brought him to the valley in 1946. After a stint in the Marine Corps, and sojourns to Aspen, Colo., Camden, Maine, and Worcester, Mass., he returned to the valley in the Sixties, working as a ski rep.
He married Mary McCloskey of Ottawa, Canada, in 1962.
He first sold real estate at Pinkham Associates, where he sold $1 million worth of residential properties. He went out on his own on Sept. 5, 1965, where he became known not only for his community generosity but also to his employees — yearly staff trips to places like Aruba and Bermuda became a beloved perk.
Jac Cuddy, executive director of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, a former banker and past Conway selectman, said Badger carried on the tradition of community caring set by past business leaders like Carroll Reed, Bob Morrell and Arlond Shea.
“He was one of the old guard that did so much to develop the community as a whole that made contributions that made a lot of the programs that we value available,” said Cuddy.
Upon learning of Badger’s passing, Paul Mayer of Black Bear Realty shared on Facebook that Badger was his hero. “When your biggest competitor is also your mentor, it’s special. The White Mountain Board of Realtors has lost a great man.
“I spent many hours driving to Concord with this guy and working on valley education and real estate issues,” Mayer added. “He never stopped entertaining me with his life stories, sailing to the islands and his desire to keep the MWV an ethical real estate market.”