Norman E. Champagne, 78, of Manchester, died peacefully at home on July 27, 2020, after a courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was born on September 15, 1941, the son of the late Laurier and Lillian (Demers) Champagne. Norman graduated from Bishop Bradley High School and St. Anselm College. After college, he began his career in the insurance industry including working for the New Hampshire Insurance Department. While working full-time, he attended Suffolk University Law School at night and graduated in 1973. He was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar that same year.
He began his legal career in his west side home with his beloved wife, Jocelyne, by his side. He soon joined with his colleague and friend, Richard Moquin, to open one of the first west side law firms. Soon after, his calling for public service led him to the New Hampshire Senate at the age of 36 where he proudly represented his west side constituency. His Senate career culminated with his service as Senate Minority Leader.
He gained a reputation for fair advocacy and respectful debate beyond partisan politics. A life-long democrat, he was somewhat surprised when then Governor John Sununu called to ask him to serve on the Manchester District Court. He took the bench in 1983 along-side Judge Armand Capistran and was proud to point out that two Franco-American judges presided over the busiest court in the State of New Hampshire.
Although the court later changed its name to the Ninth Circuit, District Division, it remained the Manchester District Court to him. He was fiercely loyal to the team of dedicated employees at the court, and it was his professional home for 28 years until he reached mandatory retirement in 2011. After retirement, he continued to serve at the court in whatever capacity he could.
Norman enjoyed being a judge and devoted his free time to numerous causes important to him. He was a founding judge of the New Hampshire Court Appointed Special Advocates. He also served on the Police Standards and Training Council and was a bail commissioner. He judged amateur boxing matches at the request of his dear friend, Robert "Bobby" Stephen. He was a member of the Board of Directors of NH-JAG (Jobs for America's Graduates) and the Bobby Stephen's Fund for Education. He appreciated his heritage enjoying time spent at the Joliet Club and as both a member and past president of the Richelieu Club. He was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus, Notre Dame Council #5163, and served as the New Hampshire State Advocate.
His greatest joy was his family. He and his wife were rarely separated in their 57 year marriage and especially enjoyed spending time at Hampton Beach. They raised three daughters to whom he was devoted until his last days. Despite his public image as a serious judge, he had a sharp wit. His happiest moments were when he was able to cradle a crying infant to sleep in his arms. His legacy will always be his loving devotion as husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and brother.
Norman leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Jocelyne D. (Desrochers) Champagne of Manchester; three daughters, Michelle Champagne-Field and husband Robert Field of Manchester, Susan Champagne and husband John Bisson of Manchester, and Joceline Champagne and husband Theodore Petro of Manchester; seven grandchildren, Abaigeal and Elizabeth Field, Matthew, Jocelyne and Emily Bisson, and Jonah and Catherine Petro; one sister, Pauline Dionne of Bedford; and many nieces and nephews.
Regrettably, due to the current pandemic, funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Norman's name may be made to Court Appointed Special Advocates of NH, an organization dedicated to providing a voice for abused and neglected children. Donations may be made to CASA of NH, PO Box 1327, Manchester, NH 03105 or on-line at www.casanh.org.