UMass Professor dies, is remembered by friends, students and colleagues

By Chris Shores

On the day University of Massachusetts professor Julie Graham died, a friend formed a blog in her memory. The blog, forjuliegraham.wordpress.com, has over 110 comments from students, colleagues and friends.

“The news of Julie’s passing is truly unbearable as we have lost the very best we humans can hope to be,” said one contributor. “Julie was tremendously generous of spirit and her immense talent, she was always hopeful and caring, and she was simply brilliant – truly shining more than most of us.”

Graham, 64, died on Apr. 4 after losing consciousness on a plane ride home from her three-month sabbatical in Australia. The incident was in response to treatment for her neck cancer, which had caused her difficulty in breathing, said the blog creator on the site. The plane, intended for Dallas, was diverted to Nashville, Tenn., but by then it was too late.

Graham became a full time professor in 1998, after joining the University 14 years earlier, said the e-mail.  A page on the UMass Geosciences website said that Graham earned a bachelor’s in English from Smith College in 1968 and a doctorate at Clark University in 1984.

 “I had the honor of being one of Julie’s students,” said another blog contributer. “Her reputation reached my ears before I began attending UMass. She inspired me to think more broadly about alternatives and how they can be integrated to form a stronger spectrum of possibility. I had hoped to work with Julie further as I develop ideas and strategies. She will be deeply missed.”

A campus-wide e-mail from Chancellor Robert C. Holub yesterday described Graham as a “respected specialist in economic and regional geography [who] traveled the globe to pursue her work and forged many friendships worldwide and close to home.”

“As Julie’s geosciences colleagues have noted, ‘Her gentle spirit, thoughtful discourse, and intellectual vision will be dearly missed,’” said Holub. “Our sympathies and condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]