A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 24th at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst (14 Boltwood Avenue). All are welcome to attend a reception at the Inn on Boltwood immediately following.
Catherine Brooke McGraw, adored mother, educator, and mentor to countless students, died of cancer in Amherst, Massachusetts on March 2, 2023. She was 55 years old.
Until last year, Catherine was the Director of College Counseling at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts, where she had worked since 2015. Before that, she had worked at Mount Holyoke College from 2008, where she held positions including Associate Dean of Admissions. She was the Associate Dean of Students at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia from 1999-2004, and the coordinator of Student Development at Carnegie Mellon from 1996-1999. She spent two years at the Mayan School, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There, she taught 300 students in ten sections when she was just 23 years old.
Catherine had a passion for education and heartily committed herself to school communities. She valued working with international students and finding them a way forward that they might not have been able to imagine. She helped students understand they were not stuck, but could always make changes, adjust, and recalibrate. She saw working at a boarding school as a lifestyle choice, not merely a job.
Catherine enjoyed creating traditions and participating in established ones. She loved her garden and making her surroundings beautiful. Maryland remained home, even as she lived elsewhere. She loved spending time at Bethany Beach, and outdoor activities such as walking her dogs and hiking. (She drew the line at camping.) Catherine’s open manner and grace drew people to her. She liked to have fun and brought everyone around her along.
Above all, Catherine’s greatest love was her three children, who were the joy and light of her life. As she said, “The most important career of all my careers is being a mom.”
Catherine is survived by her children Jack ’19, George ’21, and Catie Spence ’24; her parents John and Barbara McGraw; and her brother Adam (Eliza) McGraw as well as a devoted extended family and many loving friends.
A celebration of life will be held in Amherst at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations in Catherine’s name can be made to the Catherine Brooke McGraw Scholarship Fund at the Williston Northampton School.
One thought on “Catherine McGraw, Former Faculty”
Catherine and I began working at Williston on the same September day in 2015, and I feel so lucky to have known her as a colleague and a friend. She had a keen intelligence, gentle and warm way with people, and an incredible devotion to students and families. Her impact on hundreds of students, and on the college counseling program itself, will live on. Catherine’s graciousness and positivity — even in the face of her treatment — were truly an inspiration. She is deeply missed by all of us here at Williston.