Alumni & Giving

In Memoriam

Memorial Gifts

The UMass Amherst College of Nursing extends our deepest sympathies to family and friends of those who have passed away. Giving a gift to honor the life of a loved one also supports the future of nursing and nursing education. To make a gift in their name, please contact Ben Monat at 413-545-5090 or click here.

In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we share with you that Michael Grasso, a graduating Clinical Nurse Leader student, has passed away unexpectedly just before his graduation from our master's degree program. His compassion and dedication were evident in his work here at the College of Nursing and around the world.

He was an amazing and dedicated nurse leader who had served in Iraq with the Army Reserves and helped to rebuild after the Hurricanes in Haiti. He most recently served as the Nurse Care Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital and had worked for the hospital for over 15 years. Currently, he was working in telehealth with the Visiting Nurse and Sustainable Health Care for the Future Initiative.

There will be a card at Scholarship Day tomorrow for those who wish to send messages to his family.

His obituary is listed below:

GRASSO, Michael V. Of Dorchester, passed away on May 3, 2018. Son of Ronald and Sylvia (Hodge) Grasso. Beloved husband of Hedwidge (Brisson) Grasso. Loving father of Zachary M. Grasso. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Gregory Church on Saturday, May 12 at 10am. Visiting hours will be held at the Dolan Funeral Home, 1140 Washington St., DORCHESTER LOWER MILLS, on Friday from 4-8pm. Interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery. Relatives and friends invited. For information and online guestbook

Lillian Rachel Goodman, 94 of Shrewsbury, a visionary leader in the field of nursing education and practice, passed away peacefully Wednesday, January 24th 2018, after a period of declining health. 

Lillian was born in Hanover, New Hampshire on May 20th 1923, the eighth child of thirteen children born to the late Benjamin "Bennie" and Anna Goodman. She graduated from Lebanon High School and attended the University of Michigan. Lillian then earned her nursing diploma from Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing, and subsequently her Bachelor of Science, Masters of Science and Doctorate of Education from Boston University. She began her career with the State of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Central Office as Assistant Chief of psychiatric nurses. Lillian also served as Interim Dean for the University Of Massachusetts School Of Nursing in Amherst. In 1973, Lillian was approached and accepted the challenge to create the Worcester State College School of Nursing Department, currently known as the Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing. While serving as Professor and Department Chair at Worcester State, she also consulted both nationally and internationally and authored several publications in the field of nursing. In 1991, Lillian then assumed the position of Dean and Professor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School Graduate School of Nursing serving in this position until 1999 when she retired. During her tenure the school began offering a Collaborative Ph.D program with the Umass Campus in Amherst. Lillian received two honorary doctorates, one from Umass Worcester in 1991, and another from Worcester State College in 1999. After retirement, Lillian continued to perform community service in the areas of health and education. 

She is survived by her lifetime companion of 45 years, Mary K. Alexander of Shrewsbury; her brother, Joseph Goodman and his wife Patricia of Nashua, NH; several nieces, nephews, extended families and many friends and colleagues. In addition to her parents, Lillian was predeceased by her brothers Samuel, George, Robert, Harry, Harvey, Louis and Richard Goodman; her sisters, Grace Smith, Mary Pearlstein, Elizabeth Fleischman and Helen Budd. 

Lillian loved reading, and enjoyed playing Golf and skiing. She also found great enjoyment travelling nationally and internationally, but always enjoyed her summers in Maine and during retirement looked forward to spending winters at her home in Florida. Lillian spent many enjoyable hours with her pets, her sheltie dog Gwenie and three Siamese cats. 

Memorial services will be held at a later date. Burial will be in Sharon Memorial Park in Sharon, MA. In lieu of flowers contributions in Lillian's name can be made to the Worcester State Foundation, 486 Chandler Street Worcester, 01602. Please note in memo portion of check; Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Fund for Nursing Excellence. Gifts in memory may also be directed to the Greater Worcester Community Foundation (for the Lillian R. Goodman/Mary K. Alexander Fund for Nursing Education and Research), 370 Main Street, suite #650, Worcester, MA 01608. The MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St is honored to assist the family with arrangements


Judith Gagne Levreault ('62) of South Hadley, MA, died on February 12, 2017.  She had been dealing with Alzheimer's disease for several years, and had recently been diagnosed with lymphoma. Read her obituary here

Heather Mary McMahon, RN, 30, passed away peacefully on January 2, 2017 surrounded by her loving family and friends. Heather was born in Holyoke, MA on April 15, 1986, the daughter of James W. McMahon and Kathleen (Baush) McMahon. Heather was an avid swimmer from a young age, competing for the Holyoke YMCA Vikings for 15 years as well as USS swimming. Heather was a 2004 graduate of Holyoke High School, where she was a member of the swimming, track and field hockey teams, as well as the Holyoke High School Band. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science Degree from Springfield College where she was a member of the swim team and was selected team captain her senior year. Heather then earned a second Bachelor's Degree in nursing from New York University and was enrolled in a doctorate program at UMass, Amherst to become a Nurse Practitioner. Heather was employed as a Clinical Nurse Supervisor at Holyoke Medical Center. She was an incredibly kind and positive person with a passion for life and her community. Heather was an active member of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee as well as the Holyoke Elks. She truly enjoyed her involvement in the many Parade Committee events including the Road Race and Parade. She also enjoyed the two years she spent coaching the Holyoke High Swim Team. In addition to her parents, Heather is survived by her brothers Joseph McMahon and his wife Nora and Ryan McMahon and his wife Brooke. Heather recently became a proud aunt to her niece Connie McMahon with whom she adored spending time. She is also survived by her best friend and love of her life Kyle Mardeuse and their two cats Martin and Elliot. Heather will be missed by her many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Heather showed tremendous courage and strength in fighting an aggressive brain tumor. She maintained her positive attitude and love of life until the end. Special thanks to those who provided Heather and her family with guidance and support during her fight, especially Dr. Zubeena Mateen and Erin Hurlburt, RN, Brooke McMahon and to the staffs at the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital, the D'Amour Center for Cancer Care, and the Holyoke VNA. The Funeral Mass for Heather will be held Monday at 10:00am in Our Lady of the Cross Parish Church. Burial will follow in Forestdale Cemetery West, Rock Valley Road. Calling hours will be held Sunday from 2:00 to 6:00pm at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton Street. Given Heather's passion for finding a cure for Glioblastoma, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Heather's name to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Glioblastoma Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284 or at


Karen Plotkin, 59, of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, passed away at home on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 after a brief battle with cancer.

Karen was born in Leominster on Jan. 21, 1957, to Louis "Pin" Cannavino and Marge (Crespin) Cannavino. She was a graduate of Fitchburg State College and the Leominster School of Nursing. After graduation, she began her lifelong nursing career as a visiting nurse in the Fitchburg area. Upon moving to South Deerfield, she worked several nursing jobs. Her career then took her to the University of Massachusetts, where she became a professor in the College of Nursing for 17 years. While at UMass, she earned her master's degree and went on to complete her Ph.D.

In 2000, Karen received the College of Nursing's Outstanding Teacher award. She did extensive research on adolescent endometriosis, publishing her study, "Stolen Adolescence: The Experience of Adolescent Girls with Endometriosis" in 2004. She was also a member of several nursing associations and received a board certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a clinical nurse specialist in home health nursing in 2006.

Karen loved her students, and her students loved her. She received letters and thank-you cards from students every year, many of whom said they aspired to be like her.

Every Sunday for years, she would meet a group of friends at Schetzen Verein in Gill to walk their dogs along the Connecticut River. She also loved traveling with her family.

She is survived by her husband, John, and her children, Andrew of Worcester and Matthew of South Deerfield. She is also survived by her mother, Marge, her sister, Jane Kennedy of Leominster and Jane's longtime companion, Dennis Wills of Gardner, as well as her beloved 15-year-old Golden Retriever, Shelby Lynn.

Karen is predeceased by her father, who passed away in 2014.

A memorial service will be held Jan. 7, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Wrisley Funeral Home in South Deerfield. A calling hour will be held the morning of Jan. 7th from 10:00AM until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to UMass College of Nursing Scholarships at: Records and Gift Processing, Memorial Hall, UMass, Amherst, MA 01003. Online donations can be made at: Click here to read Karen's obituary.

Valerie George, clinical instructor, passed away September 7, 2015.

Elizabeth Ann Clark, 87, of Brewster, a former assistant professor in the College of Nursing, died Aug. 9, 2015. She was an instructor in nursing from 1957-61 and served as an assistant professor, medical-surgical nursing, from 1964-76.  Born in 1928, she was a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and earned masters degrees from Columbia Teachers College and Yale University School of Nursing. She also taught nursing at the University of Maine and the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and was a head nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Nancy Fisk, retired associate professor of nursing, passed away July 17, 2015. Nancy made her career as a nurse and academic earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut at Storrs and her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She spent most of her professional life as a professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Earlier in her career, Nancy taught nursing at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Holyoke Community College. She also founded the first halfway house for recovering alcoholic women in Springfield.  Nancy enjoyed years of involvement in barbershop music in the Sweet Adelines organization as a member of choruses in Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as director of one which she founded, The Belles of Amherst.