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May 4, 2017

Adored by many, UMass freshman Sarah Bresnahan gone too soon

Courtesy of Facebook

The University of Massachusetts and Amherst community lost a bright future on April 6 in a car accident resulting in the death of Sarah Bresnahan.

The 19-year-old from Easton, Massachusetts danced her way into the hearts of many, leaving behind the true impression of an angel, as her family often called her.

Most recently at Dance Express in her hometown, Bresnahan “Had a passion for dance. She really, really enjoyed dancing,” her father, Mark Bresnahan said.

“She was just beautiful, sweet, smart, hardworking and she had an uncontrollable laugh sometimes,” Bresnahan’s father recalled. “She’d get in that mode, we called it the ‘Sunday sillies,’ and she just couldn’t stop. You’d say something and she’d just keep laughing.”

Bresnahan was in her freshman year as an accounting major in the Commonwealth Honors College.

In addition to her father, Bresnahan is survived by her mother, Cynthia, and 22-year-old brother Thomas, as well as numerous extended family members, according to her obituary.

Bresnahan’s father spoke lovingly of the great relationship Bresnahan and her brother had.

“She really adored her brother, Thomas. A lot of siblings fight, but they really didn’t. A little bit when they were younger, but really from first grade on, just super solid,” he said.

Madeline Patrick, a close friend of Bresnahan from Easton and a freshman environmental science major at UMass said, “She would talk about [Thomas] all the time, how close they were…She was very much involved in his life. It came through in a lot of conversations that they were very, very close.”

(photo courtesy of Madeline Patrick)

Patrick was first introduced to Bresnahan by some mutual friends in middle school, and the two became close being on the Oliver Ames High School track team together as middle-distance runners.

“She was very passionate about school and learning. When I was in her group for [biology] we would compare test scores and hers would always be like 98, ridiculously high,” said Patrick. “She was so smart and very devoted to academics.”

Megan Campbell, Bresnahan’s sophomore high school Literacy Types and Themes honors English class and junior AP Language and Composition teacher really admired her.

“She was everything you’d want in a student: hardworking, just always an uplifting personality. Very smart, very persistent, but she was just so sweet,” said Campbell. “I just so enjoyed teaching her and watching her grow over the two years that I worked with her…I can’t help but think what her family must be going through right now, it’s very unfair.”

Campbell described Bresnahan as a caring individual, coming to check on Campbell every so often in her classroom around the time that her father passed away, during Bresnahan’s junior year of high school. The close relationship between the two led Campbell to write a college recommendation for Bresnahan.

Outside of dancing, track and schoolwork, Bresnahan’s father explained that she also loved to travel, ski, bake and even made her own clothes on certain occasions, wearing her own handmade dresses to two of her high school dances. She was on the ski team as well at Oliver Ames and loved ski trips to Stowe and Burke mountains in Vermont.

Spending time with her family was a big part of Bresnahan’s life.

Bresnahan’s father said, “My mother-in-law is Lithuanian so you know we did some Lithuanian traditions for Christmas Eve and Easter. Fourth of July…we have a cottage in Plymouth so we’d always spend time there.”

“Her family is so, so close. It’s just awesome, and I met a lot of them yesterday. They were just all so kind,” said Patrick.

Bresnahan was well-versed in her love for travel, having visited Lithuania, France, London and Ireland, and taking family trips to the Caribbean, Stowe and Maine.

Patrick traveled with Bresnahan in their junior year of high school to London on a school trip with some other friends.

“She really had a passion for travel…We’ve been doing it pretty much her whole life,” said her father.

On April 15, members of Bresnahan’s graduating class at Oliver Ames are holding a candlelight vigil in her memory on the grass field of their high school.

“I know there’s a ton of interest in that, so it just kind of shows how much of an impact she had on our class, she was a big part of our school and meant a lot to a lot of people,” said Patrick. “She was very loved by a lot of people in my class.”

“She was a wonderful, wonderful, very caring person. She lit up a room, whatever room she walked into. She had the most infectious smile,” said Campbell.

“To those people that knew her, to remember those good times with her, and honor her by making this wonderful world we live in a better place. Be kind, help others and compliment them on their strengths,” said Bresnahan’s father.

Hayley Johnson can be reached at hkjohnson@umass.edu.

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