Power of the Individual

The top doctor in the world, according to the education company Embibe, is a professor of orthopedics and medical director for The Dartmouth Institute. Surgeon Dr. William A. Abdu leads a top 10 list they recently released

Rick 5x7300dpiThe fact that Dr. Abdu works in New Hampshire yet does not appear on our Top Docs list might seem like a puzzle, but every such attempt at finding the best (or the worst) of people is subject to inherent biases. That’s why we use polling firm Castle Connolly, which has refined its survey for many years to provide a consistent focus.        

The Embibe top 10 list proceeds from an academic perspective. Our annual results serve local readers who seek specialty medical care and also reveal the level of excellence that exists among the cadre of physicians in our hospitals. Neither is a perfect system, but the most powerful way to say something about the groups that we rely upon is to focus on the individuals who make them up.

Empowerment of the individual is in the New Hampshire DNA. From our town meetings (which should be in full swing as this issue appears in homes) that enable any resident to participate in grassroots democracy to our imperilled first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary that allows a candidate without the backing of some powerful group or party to make a campaign pitch to the whole nation, we are all about raising singular voices so they can be heard by many.

As I look back on recent decades of New Hampshire life, it’s the individuals who come to mind, each one like a bookmark in time, able to return thoughts to the most vivid chapters of our shared history.

I was reminded of this at a recent dinner at The Foundry in Manchester, where a poster on the wall celebrated the successful release of the Christa McAuliffe silver dollar. Sales of the collectible coin provide funds to FIRST, the student robotics program of Dean Kamen, head of DEKA Research and Development. 

McAuliffe died in the Challenger explosion in 1986 but still serves as a spirit guide for adventurous students and teachers. Kamen made a fortune inventing devices to solve health-related human problems (like his portable dialysis pump) that he parlayed into the revivification of the Manchester Millyard and also the creation of FIRST, a nonprofit that mixes high school kids and professional engineers “for inspiration and recognition of science and technology.” Kamen, who continues to create mind-blowing inventions and is establishing a world-class biotech center in the ancient brick millyard edifices, has often said he considers FIRST to be his greatest legacy because of the potent effect it can have on each participant.  

As I was thinking about this note, I got a press release saying that Gov. Chris Sununu was visiting the Osram Sylvania plant in Hillsborough. It had received a multimillion-dollar investment to help overcome supply-chain challenges that have been dogging the U.S. economy. When I read the release, a less-famous name popped into my mind: Everett Feldblum. 

A Democrat who ran a clothing store in conservative Hillsborough, Feldblum rose to considerable influence, both locally and nationally, for his “amateur” work in economic development back in the 20th century. He lured major companies to set up shop in our North Country towns, helped develop Hampshire Plaza in Manchester and secure Sylvania plants for Nashua, Greenland and Hillsborough.

Banker Harold Acres called him a, “storybook character. He wore old spotted clothes. His filing cabinet was his shirt pocket.” Long before the digitization of everything, important clients asking Feldblum for a phone number would appear bemused to watch him produce 3-inch wads of tattered business cards wrapped with rubber bands.

Each of those cards in Feldblum’s tattered wads represented an individual to him, and each individual was a source of power and influence, just waiting to be summoned.

Categories: Editor’s Note