Obituary: Francine Smith, 55

Francine Smith, 55, of Southboro, died Tuesday morning, September 10. She is the wife of the late David Echelman and the sister of Stuart Smith. She is the mother of Daniel, 24, Matthew, 22, Adam, 18, and a second mother and inspiration to many of her students and friends.

Fran trained as a biophysicist and crystallographer, studying at Wesleyan University and at Johns Hopkins University, where she met David. Early on, Fran had a passion for scientific research. As her children entered school, she made an effort to bring science into their education.

She frequented their preschool as “Fran the Science Lady”, where she taught the children to grow crystals and build simple machines. She pioneered the STEP science enrichment program for the Northboro-Southboro public school system when her children reached elementary school.

Eventually she moved to a full-time teaching career, first as a chemistry professor at WPI, and later at Worcester Academy, where she taught all three of her boys in her class over the course of her 10 years there. She was also a mentor and mother to many of her colleagues and students, some of whom had experienced their own personal hardships and took refuge in her classroom.

Fran was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at the time of her husband’s death. After that time, she became involved as a patient advocate at The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and was an organizer of the Jimmy Fund Walk and Rock, an annual cancer fund raiser.

Fran inspired many with wisdom, courage, and perseverance of spirit. Of the many roles Fran played magnificently during her life, nothing mattered to her more than being the mother to her three boys.

The funeral services [was] held at 11 AM on Thursday, September 12 at Congregation B’Nai Shalom, 117 East Main Street, Westboro, MA under the direction Richard Perlman of Brezniak-Rodman Chapel of Newton. Burial will be in Beit Olam Cemetery in Wayland.

Memorial observance will be held 7 pm to 9:30 pm on Thursday at her residence, 10 Wentworth Drive, Southboro. Memorial contributions may be made to the Breast Oncology Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02215.

(Obituary via Brezniak-Rodman Funeral Home)

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