Jessica Roseman

Jessica Roseman, 82, of Ashley Falls, died peacefully at home on January 11, 2021, after a long illness, surrounded by her family. Jessica died as she lived – with resilience, tenacity, bravery, compassion for others, and humor. Her absence is deeply felt and she is very much missed.

Born in New York City in 1938, Jessica began spending time in the Berkshires with her family at a young age, immediately falling in love with the country. She loved exploring the woods and learning about the local plants and wildlife (a fascination she passed on to many young people). As a child, she made her own poles for trout fishing, and often brought fish home from the nearby brook for the family dinner. She lived and worked in NYC until she moved to the Berkshires permanently, around 1974. Jessica worked primarily in education, and was especially skilled at working with children with disabilities. She was a gifted and highly trained pianist who started playing the organ in church when she was nine, enjoyed playing and singing with friends and family, and was the organist at Trinity Methodist Church in Ashley Falls for over 30 years. She was a single mother by choice at a time when that was rare, and she worked hard to create a loving, supportive community for her daughter to grow up in.

She adored her job as the children’s librarian in Sheffield, where she ran many wonderful programs, including vacation programs, music and stories for toddlers and preschoolers, and chess and Lego clubs.

Jessica had a lifelong passion for birds and birding. She also loved nature, gardening, reading, word games, crossword puzzles, music, and teaching. She had a bottomless interest in learning and knowledge, and enjoyed reading about a wide variety of subjects. She cared deeply about social justice, democracy, and human rights, and would go to bat to protect and support the underdog. She had a huge heart, strong opinions, and tended to say exactly what she thought. Those who knew her usually came to appreciate this. Above all was her love of humor and laughter, and she would do almost anything to get people to smile, even when she was very ill. She frequently reminded us to try to maintain a sense of humor, because “you may as well laugh!”

Jessica’s friends and family were a great joy for her. She leaves behind her beloved family: daughter Kate Magram; sister and brother-in-law Deborah and Ted First; her niece, two nephews, and eleven grandnieces and nephews, each of whom cherished their Aunt Jess; and many valued friends. She leaves her best friend of many years, Betty LeGeyt, with whom she shared numerous adventures, including leading a Bluebird troop, running library programs for children, and maintaining a years-long weekly study group. Her family is grateful for Karin Shanley, Jessica’s dedicated caregiver who also became her dear friend. Her family is also grateful for the many caring healthcare practitioners who helped her have the best quality of life possible, and for the countless friends and community members who have shown their love and support in a wide variety of ways. She loved and appreciated her local Ashley Falls/Sheffield community. Jessica was predeceased by her parents, Morris and Ruth Roseman.

As Jessica requested, there will be a small, outdoor memorial service in the spring. In lieu of flowers, Jessica suggested donations to Doctors Without Borders or Smile Train. The family would enjoy any specific memories you care to share. Memories and messages may be left on her memorial page at Boston Cremation (


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8 Condolences

  1. Janice Storti on April 22, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    I knew Jess for years. She was the kind of person whom you never forget, nor does the memory of her ever diminish. We did not live far apart, but we each lived our lives. I admired her energy and gardening skills, her beautiful daughter Kate, and her love of children. I remember the trips we took, usually at her prodding. She always kept me moving and I loved it. I wonder if she ever thought about four of us getting together to do projects at one anothers’ homes in return for a meal! Jess, I will miss you.

  2. skm on April 26, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    The best of the best. A link in the chain. Thank you Jessica.

  3. Art kaufman on April 26, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    She was everything Kate & Janice have said she was! Getting to know Jessica (and her daughter) was a joy her spirit infectious. My life, and the life of so many others is better because she was a part of it!

  4. Joshua on April 27, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    Bye Aunt Jess. While I miss you so very much, a lot of this feeling is about how all my life I simply knew you were there, at home, at The Cobble, always available by phone, fun letter, or the occasional summertime trek north. You have been a pillar in my life since I was born, and you left me with your love of Mother Nature and all things living. Most of all I miss your humor. Rest easily and Godspeed on your spirit journey. Know we miss you and will not forget you.

  5. Jessica Hentoff on April 27, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for raising Kate the way you did so that she is who she is.

  6. Sarah (Moore) Boylan on May 10, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Jess took my mom and I in to her home when we really needed it. I was so fortunate to get to know her and spend so much time with my friend Kate!
    Jess made the BEST truffles! She never said a thing about their quickly diminishing numbers. 🙂
    I look forward to meeting her again.

  7. Dessida Snyder on May 17, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Jessica’s presence was a thread so seamlessly woven into my life, especially my childhood, that it’s not until now, when I start to pull it free to look at it more closely, that I see clearly how much she played her own role in holding the fabric together, making it rich with her unique color, and love. She was always there, part of my friendship with Kate, part of the time we spent together.

    I have memories of Jessica teaching us music in the basement cafeteria of Dewey school (long before it was a courthouse). There was a piano pushed against the stucco wall next to the lunch tables and we would gather around it. Or later at the farmhouse in Ashely Falls (always just “Kate’s house” in my mind), standing near the piano in the corner, lit by a gooseneck lamp. My favorite song was a Halloween song – “There Was an Old Women All Skin and Bones.” I remember the line drawings on the sheet music, and Jessica playing with as much relish as us kids singing. At the last line, she yelled “Boo” with perfect timing, delighting and scaring me (so much so, that I think I requested this song so often she once gently rebuked me, saying other kids needed a turn).

    There was also “Going to the Garden to Eat Worms.” The internet isn’t giving me the words as I remember them, but it started with “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, going to the garden to eat worms…long thin slimy ones slip down easily, short fat fuzzy ones stick…” – at which point Jessica would do a drawn-out “yech” shaking her head and grinning. As a shy, skinny kid, singing so raucously about not being liked and then doing something as silly and disgusting as eating worms was more of a balm to my soul than I realized at the time.

    There was also the time that my mother and Jessica carefully peeled grapes and cooked spaghetti, putting them in decorated cardboard boxes with cut out holes covered in streamers so you couldn’t see inside. They dressed up as witches and came to our school so we could all stick our hands in the holes and feel the “eyeballs” and “brains.” Another Halloween, a few years later when we were a little older, Jessica and my parents hung pillowcases in a stand of trees behind her house. One of them brought us out there in the dark moonlit night, while the other two made ghostly noises in the night shadows of the pines. I think I remember catching sight of them in the dark running back to the house, laughing, hoping to get back before we saw them.

    A Halloween theme is emerging as a write these memories of Jessica. In a way, I don’t think that’s an accident – it’s the most irreverent, unsentimental, fun and mischievous holiday. But I have memories of Christmas time too, of Jessica helping drill holes in clothespins so I could thread pipe cleaners through to make proper arms for clothespin doll tree ornaments, or the short, full Christmas tree that sat in the corner of the living room at Kate’s house, always full of ornaments and presents underneath.

    And the everyday memories as well: coming downstairs from a sleepover to find Jessica finishing the crossword puzzle at the kitchen counter; being served bubbling and rich casseroles on heavy yellow ceramic plates with three-tonged forks that were different from what I had at home, but so familiar to me; or when Jessica would pick us up from swimming in the nearby muddy river, laughing at our feet covered in the oozy brown muck. While I spent hours at Kate’s house, playing dolls inside, collecting insects, making our own outdoor adventures on hot summer days, Jessica was always there, purposefully working – gardening, mowing the lawn, repairing the shed – taking care of whatever needed to be done with an unassuming strength and purpose.

    As I got older, Jessica was there in different ways: in the bulk order of little bags of granola she sent to me and Kate when we were living in Somerville for a year before college (a year in which we kept some strange company – including one guy who ended up eating a fair amount of that granola without true appreciation for what it truly meant); and in the large stalks of bright gladiolus she grew to decorate the altar on my wedding day.

    Jessica was constantly serving in the community – whether it was running our Blue Bird troop, serving on the PTA, working with disabled residents at a local group home, playing organ in the church or later working at the local library. She was always there, with her distinctive short haircut and lively grin, doing what needed to be done with an egoless pragmatism and sense of humor.

    As I sift through these memories, and so many more – I am left with this: that one of the best kinds of love and service to others is capable, selfless, and matter-of-fact with a wicked grin, a twinkling eye and a rollicking song.

    Thank you, Jessica.

  8. Roberta Sanders on August 13, 2021 at 3:47 am

    I will always remember when Kate was in my second grade and wanted me to do the play The Wizard of Oz with the class. I said it was too long and involved for a second grade class. Needless to say, Kate responded with “My mom can help.” Jessica sure did help with her piano playing and creative assistance. The play with Kate playing Dorothy and helping the others remember their lines was a huge success and one of my best teaching memories.

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