CONWAY — Just one look. That’s all it took, for Bob and Sharon Seaman when they first saw one another back in the summer of 1964.
Married in 1967, they are now retired, having moved seven years ago to North Conway, where they are active volunteers in the community, principally with local affordable housing issues with the MWV Housing Coalition for Bob, and together, with the First Church of Christ Congregational’s Food Pantry, where they devote 30 to 40 volunteer hours a month.
Whether enjoying skiing, hiking (they did 47 of the 48 4,000-footers in the White Mountains) or volunteering, they bring a shared energy and respect for one another that sets an example for those who know them.
It’s been that way since they first met.
Sharon Morse worked at a local bank in her hometown of Concord and Bob was a New England College civil engineering student from Long Island who was doing a summer internship with the N.H. Department of Highways’ Planning and Economics Division.
“He came into the bank. I cashed his check for him, and it was sort of love at first sight,” said Sharon, then a 20-year old teller.
Bob, then 21, adds there was also a bit of luck involved.
“That summer, I had rented a room at the local YMCA — which happened to be just past where Sharon lived up the street from the bank. So, when there’s someone that you want to see more of, that was a good thing, to have our paths cross from time to time."
“She was quiet, patient and kind,” said Bob, 76. Those same qualities that attracted Sharon to Bob.
“I realized right away what a great person he was. I knew he was somebody I wanted to get to know better soon — he was kind and respectful, just everything I could ask for in anyone,” said Sharon, 74.
They became engaged soon after that, but due to Bob’s graduate studies at Cornell University, they waited three years to get married in her hometown of Concord in 1967.
Bob soon was hired for municipal planning positions, first in Elmira, N.Y., then Reading, Pa. Then, after the birth of their son, Jayson, in the early 1970s, Bob got a call from his alma mater, New England College, asking if he would like to teach planning and engineering there.
“We had always aspired to return to New Hampshire" Bob said. "And then this opportunity came, initially to teach civil engineering and planning, and later environmental sciences and general education.”
Sharon added, “We had just bought our first home, our son was 7 weeks old and we were just settling in when we received the call. We had always wanted to return to New Hampshire, so we were excited about the opportunity."
Sharon was at first a stay-at-home mom for their children, Jayson and daughter Kristen. Later, she worked for the Visiting Nurses Association doing a lot of hospice work. Eventually, she made a career out of working at the Havenwood/Heritage Heights Retirement Community in Concord.
While working full-time Sharon returned to college, earning her bachelor of science degree in human services at New England College two weeks shy of her 50th birthday.
While attending New England College, Sharon was actively involved in its pioneering Adventure Bound Program. With this background, she designed and managed a program for teens in Henniker called HABIT (Henniker Adventure Based Initiative for Teens).
Bob's love for the mountains of the Granite State started while attending summer camps as a kid in the ‘50s.
“That’s why I chose New England College in Henniker for my college to begin with — I had already bonded with the White Mountains,” he said.
He shared his love for hiking, canoeing, camping and cross-country skiing with Sharon.
“My parents were older, so I was not active with the outdoors, other than downhill skiing," Sharon said. Once I met Bob, he introduced me to all of these other activities, and I loved every minute of it!”
They initially came to Mount Washington Valley with their children and camped at the Glen Ellis Campground to hike and canoe, later they bought a rustic cabin in Littleton.
In 2011 Bob and Sharon retired to North Conway where they designed and built a home in Echo Acres with grand views of the valley toward Mount Washington.
Active in their church’s food pantry in Concord,after moving here, they quickly became involved with the Vaughan food pantry of the First Church of Christ Congregational, North Conway.
Joining a team of dedicated volunteers, they work hard to serve the needs of the community at the Vaughan Community Service’s rented food pantry behind Via Roma in North Conway.
Bob serves as secretary on the Vaughan Board and is on the “Vaughan to the Future” $1.3 million capital campaign to build a new food pantry and clothing depot.
They love to stay active, skiing, hiking, biking and spending time with Jayson, his wife Kimberly and their granddaughters Eliza Brook, 10, and twins Carrigan and Moriah, 8. Daughter Kristen — a resident of Center Conway — joins them often on these outings.
Having survived a battle with breast cancer last year, Sharon says she is grateful for every day. They participate in the Jen’s Friends Hill Climb Against Cancer, organizing “Team Leona” for this annual event.
Fifty years since they first set eyes on each other in that Concord bank, Bob and Sharon continue to relish their time together.
“It’s about mutual respect, enjoying sharing time together — and just having fun,” said Bob.
Added Sharon, “And faith plays a big part for both of us in our marriage. It’s very important to us.”