© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Dr. Nancy Friedman Grassian, 52, activist
By Laura Levis, Globe Correspondent, 2/29/2004
Dr. Nancy Friedman Grassian of Newton, a community activist and the former
director of psychology at Tufts Medical Center, died Friday of a rare form
of cancer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She was 52.
"Her endurance and perseverance was inspirational to the entire
community," said longtime friend, Roderick MacLeish Jr. of Newton. "She
was able to mix everything -- a successful career and a great love of
A longtime resident of Newton, Dr. Friedman graduated from George
Washington University before earning a doctorate in clinical psychology
from Case Western Reserve. After her internship at Beth Israel, she was
appointed Director of Psychology at Tufts Medical Center where she
remained for several years.
Described by friends and family as a woman with great passion and
determination, Dr. Friedman was diagnosed in the early 1990s with
leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that can be fatal within months of
Believed by her doctors to be one of the longest survivors of the disease,
Dr. Friedman endured more than a dozen surgeries, multiple rounds of
radiation, and chemotherapy in 12 years. Last year she was honored at the
first conference of the Sarcoma Association.
A dedicated supporter of those who suffered from chronic disease, Dr.
Friedman was active in the Wellness Community of Greater Boston, where her
three children worked as teen volunteers.
She maintained an active clinical practice for many years and continued
private therapy sessions with patients through her illness.
Extremely active in local civic associations, Dr. Friedman served as
cochairman of the Newton Safety Committee, was campaign chairman in
several local elections, participated in numerous school organizations and
served as president and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chestnut
"Newton politics can be very divisive, but Nancy could walk into the room
and put everyone at ease, especially people who wouldn't normally talk to
each other," MacLeish said.
Newton Mayor David Cohen agreed.
"She was such a loving person," Cohen said yesterday. "She was incredibly
devoted to her family and the community."
Despite the time commitments of her professional practice and her
community involvement, the focus of Dr. Friedman's life was her three
children and her husband.
"No one could ask for a more devoted mother or friend," a longtime friend,
Margot Chamberlin of Newton, said in a statement. "Nancy's huge heart and
great sense of humor, even in her final days, will be an enduring sense of
inspiration to her vast community of friends, as well as her family."
She leaves her husband, Dr. Stuart Grassian; and her children, Alexandra,
Danielle, and Benjamin, all of Chestnut Hill, as well as her parents,
Mendel and Dorothy Friedman; her brother, John Friedman; and her sister,
Roberta Weinstein; all of Baltimore.