Over the weekend, we learned the terrible and tragic news of the death of alumna Allison J. Donovan, who was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on Friday night in Somerville. She was 40 years old.
Another pedestrian, a friend of Donovan’s, was also injured by the vehicle, though her injuries were not life-threatening, according to authorities.
“Allison dedicated her career to improving the circumstances of young people, making a tangible difference in their lives,” said interim President Richard Hansen in a message sent Monday morning to the entire Lesley community.
Donovan graduated in May of 2001 with a bachelor's and master's degree in elementary education. She was a longtime respected educator and administrator in Watertown public schools, and worked for two years as principal of the Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose.
Donovan's classmates remember her kindness, as well as her devotion to teaching and her students.
"Allison was my best friend and my family since our years at Lesley," said Melrose resident Kara (Lamoureux) Aspetti, a pre-K teacher in Lowell Public Schools. "I am grateful for the beloved friendship we shared and my life is so much better because Allison was a part of it.
"She was a friend, educator and leader like no other. Allison never wavered from seeing the best in everyone and inspiring her students, colleagues, family and friends. This tragedy is felt deeply by multiple communities and she will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her."
Similarly, Tracy (Rickert) Kelly of North Attleboro remembers Donovan as a "sweet, kind and devoted friend" who was a born teacher.
"She was a wonderful woman whom I was fortunate to have shared my most memorable times at Lesley with and beyond," said Kelly, a development associate at Brown University. "I’ll never forget our years of living in Sacramento Hall, spending way too much time at Cambridge Common, and our very first apartment in Somerville as grownups."
Kelly added that she loved Donovan's dry sense of humor and that, despite the years that passed since graduation, she valued Donovan's friendship and admired her.
"I am so proud of the life she led as an educator, her lifelong passion," Kelly said. "She touched many lives in her community and truly made a difference in this world."
According to Donovan’s obituary, “Allison embraced life … (and) was an avid hiker and trekked many of the local trails like Spy Pond and Sheepfold with her beloved dog, Eli. She also enjoyed more adventurous hiking and rock climbing in the Acadia National Park and other challenging locations. She loved to travel, with warm weather destinations being her vacation of choice. She was a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.”
President Hansen, in his community message, added: “Our concern and support are with her loved ones, and our community is profoundly saddened that Allison’s life was cut short. Her legacy endures through the lives of those she taught and worked with.”
"From the beginning of her time at Lesley, Allison was devoted to working with very young children with special needs and their families," said Dr. Joanne Szamreta, professor emerita. "She used her skills and the warmth and caring within her personality to support everyone's growth."
A Mass of Christian Burial was held Feb. 14 in Burlington. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Donovan’s name may be made to Watertown High School Scholarship Program for the Allison Donovan Memorial Scholarship, care of Watertown Public Schools, Business Office, 30 Common St., Watertown, MA, 02472.