Rachel W. Houston, 84, of Lisbon, N.H., died Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at The Morrison Communities nursing home in Whitefield.
Rachel was Lisbon born, bred, and wed. Born in Lisbon to Margaret Hughes and Loren Welch in 1936, Rachel attended the North Lisbon School on Route 302, a one-room schoolhouse, before graduating from Lisbon Regional High School in 1954. Upon graduation, Rachel began working at the Littleton Courier. In early 1956, Rachel met the love of the life at a local dance, but before they could begin their life together, she embarked on the first of many travel adventures by driving cross-country to Colorado with her lifelong friend and partner-in-crime, Doreen (Dodge) Kaspszak to visit another dear friend, Katy (Dodge) Griebel. While Doreen chose to remain in Colorado, Rachel returned to her beloved New Hampshire where, later that year, she married Gerald E. “Sam” Houston. After Rachel and Sam wed in October 1956, they settled in Lisbon.
The early years of their marriage brought two sons, G.P. and Randy, whom Rachel cared for while working as a bookkeeper for a variety of businesses in Littleton and Lisbon. But Rachel’s true professional passion was working alongside Sam at the auctions held by George Clement and Archie Steenburgh, a passion Rachel continued to pursue into her 80s. Inspired by their work at the auctions, Sam and Rachel opened Houston’s Furniture Barn in 1979, which their children and grandchildren continue to operate today. For decades, Rachel spent many happy hours driving all over her beloved New Hampshire exploring yard sales, flea markets, and antique stores of every size with her girlfriends. A knowledgeable collector with a keen eye, Rachel particularly loved collecting artwork and crafts adorned with the Old Man of the Mountain, as well as Sawyer paintings of classic new England scenes.
Rachel was also a much-beloved “kitchen lady” at Lisbon Regional High School for more than forty years. Rachel not only enjoyed the opportunity to see some of her cherished grandchildren every day, but also took a deep interest in the well-being of all the school’s students as reflected by her many years of service as an active member of the Lisbon School Board. In addition, as befitting her deep love of Lisbon, Rachel was a long-time supporter of the Lisbon Area Historical Society. She enjoyed attending the Society’s lectures and exploring its collection of artifacts.
While Rachel’s heart always remained in Lisbon, she enjoyed many travels over the years, often with her daughter, Kellie. From annual family trips to Maine and a cross-country road trip to Arizona, to exploring Alaska, Ireland and Italy (at age 80) with Kellie, to many long weekends in New York City, Rachel’s energy and enthusiasm carried her far and wide. While in her 60s, she even made a trip to England to visit with a pen pal with whom she had been exchanging letters since grade school.
Rachel’s strength, wit, kindness and infectious smile will be long remembered by many, as will her inspirational love of life, family, and community. From serving generations of Lisbon’s children lunch at school with an encouraging smile, to climbing up in a truck to help her eldest son split wood into her 70s, to operating a local business with her beloved husband for four decades, Rachel quietly and without fanfare set an example of a life well-lived that her family and friends will cherish in their memories forever.
Rachel is survived by her sons G.P. and Randy, her daughter Kellie, her daughters-in-law, Karla and Lisa, her grandchildren G.P. II, Tiffany (Pitts - and her husband, Gary), Jamie (and his wife, Jordan), Katrina (Threlfall – and her husband, Terry), Amanda and Rodney and her great-grandchildren, Chloe, Merrick, Kylah (Pitts), Marcus, Granite, Emmily (Pitts) and Evan (Threlfall); and her brother Leslie Welch along with multiple nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family will be hosting a celebration of life at Rachel’s home in Lisbon on June 5, 2021, from noon until 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Rachel’s name to the Lisbon Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 6, Lisbon, NH 03585, a charitable organization that promotes the public’s interest in and appreciation for the Towns of Lisbon, Landaff and Lyman, the town(s) that Rachel loved.