Article published Jan 29, 2007 in Nashua Telegraph
Innkeeper, Bud Zahn, led life full of endless energy,
By David Brooks
MILFORD – Pavarotti amid pick-your-own blueberries, sled dogs in the barn,
the area’s most unusual hotel, and endless pleasure in conversation – it
isn’t hard to find highlights in Bud Zahn’s life.
Even the hand-painted boulder that helps people spot the family’s dirt
driveway had some Zahn flair.
“I remember seeing in the local paper, the list of school bus routes. One of
the stops was ‘the Zahn rock,’ ” said Anne (Mannino) Zahn, who was married
to Bud for 60 years.
Charles “Bud” Zahn, 83, died Tuesday at his home after a long illness. Many
family members – all four children, plus 10 grandchildren and a newborn
great-grandchild, live in the region – were there.
Zahn wasn’t prominent in the usual way: He didn’t hold elected office or
have lots of employees. But his character made him hard to forget; after
all, this is a man who was bored when he broke his leg and couldn’t ski, so
he learned how to fly instead.
Many people know the name because of Zahn’s Alpine Guest House on Route 13,
just past the Mont Vernon line.
Zahn had the eight-room guest house built in 1991, both as a business and as
a celebration of culture of southern Germany – where his grandfather came
from, and where Bud’s blond, hearty persona was common.
“The first trip we made for the importing business was (the Bavarian Alps).
We went over there to look for new products, and I said, ‘You look just like
these people!’” recalled Anne.
The guest house is heated by a huge central “kachelofen,” a traditional tile
stove from central Europe, and filled with furniture of the region,
including antique armoires and special German mattresses.
As guests usually found out, the guest house had another important feature:
It provided Bud with an audience.
“He just loved going down there, talking with people. He was usually
repeating the stories that I’ve heard 10 million times, but they were new to
them,” Anne said, laughing.
Talking with people was a central appeal in the Christmas tree farm and
blueberry patch, both started not long after the couple bought a former
dairy farm between Jennison Road and Route 13, around 1971. (The Zahn rock,
white with the family name in big black letters, was painted by the children
The blueberries drew families from all over who would fill a bucket and then
weigh it up at the house. If you were lucky, Bud came down and did some
picking himself, leaving the car door open so a Luciano Pavarotti tape could
blast out over the more than 120 bushes of berries.
“People liked it,” said Anne, an opera fan who introduced the art form to
her husband. “It was kind of a nice background while you’re picking.”
The Christmas tree operation was an outlet for another of the family’s
pleasures: sled dogs. The couple has owned Huskies since at least the 1960s.
Saying hello to the dogs while paying for your pick-your-own blueberries up
at the house was a customer’s summer pleasure, but in winter, if there was
enough snow on the ground, you could get a free dog-sled ride along with
your white pine.
“He was an outdoor person, he just loved the cold weather,” remembered Anne.
Early family memories including taking the kids to Twin Tows, the
long-closed ski area that operated in west Milford.
“He loved it so much that I figured I had to join it or I’d miss out,” Anne
said. “It was a big part of his life.”
Born in Boston, Bud moved to Amherst as a child. He and Anne were introduced
by a friend during a weekend visit back home while he was working in the big
city. He served in the Army in World War II, then returned to Milford, where
he and Anne were married in 1946. He held a variety of jobs, including
raising chickens, before creating his own import-export business.
His memorial service was held Friday at Smith & Heald Funeral Home in
Milford. Fittingly, it was cold; even more fittingly, it was full of
The family plans a public celebration of his life this summer. The future of
the guest house and other family businesses has yet to be decided.