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Pauline Olsen died peacefully at her home in Watertown on June 22, three weeks after her 75th birthday. She had battled Parkinson’s disease for over 25 years, but managed to lead a full life and enjoyed traveling the world as recently as 2017. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Don Lessard (recently retired from MIT where he taught for 46 years), her two sons Paul and Edward, and her sister Jane Horning (Palo Alto, CA).
Pauline was engaged in various school and community causes, most notably the Elizabeth Evarts de Rham hospice home of Cambridge where she served on and later led the development committee. Her biggest project though, was raising her two sons, with Paul recently completing his PhD in mathematics at UColorado and embarking on a post-doc at Macquarie U in Sydney, and Ed completing his MSW at NYU and beginning his career as a Social Worker in Connecticut. She was rightfully proud of them and was delighted with their choices of partners. Rachel Kennedy is headed to Australia with Paul and plans to attend law school there, Mary Wilcop is an art conservator at the Yale University Art Gallery. Mary and Ed were married at the family home in VT last October, and Pauline was present.
Pauline graduated from San Jose State University in California and later earned her JD from Boston College Law School. Her decision to move to Boston to study law brought Don from Dartmouth to MIT in 1973. She was an avid skier and tennis player, and an outstanding cook and host.
Pauline and her family were blessed with wonderful caregivers over the years as well as a dedicated medical team at MIT Medical and BWH. For the last ten years, she was a regular participant in Parkinson’s Dance at the Jewish Family and Children's Services in Waltham, noting with her wry humor that “Parkinson’s Dance is more interesting than other kinds of activities.”
In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations in her name be sent to the Parkinson’s Program, Jewish Family & Children's Service http://www.jfcsboston.org/donate . A gathering of family and friends will be held at the Lessard family home in Vermont in early August.