Diane Esser, lawyer and proud GCC alumna, is remembered


Recorder Staff

Published: 02-27-2018 10:16 PM

GREENFIELD — Diane Esser, a Greenfield Community College alumna, is being remembered for her dedication to her alma mater and her community as a whole.

Esser, a lawyer for Esser Kent Family Law, died Monday. Friends and community members remembered her as a kind, respectable person with a love for her town.

Esser began her education at GCC in 1971, eventually earning her bachelor’s from University of Massachusetts and a law degree from Boston University in the late 1970s.

She was a member of the Franklin County Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. She also served on the Board of New England Learning Center for Women in Transition and was the co-chair of the Franklin County Reinventing Justice Initiative.

In 2005, Esser became a volunteer fundraiser for the GCC Foundation. The same year, GCC President Bob Pura and Executive Director of Annual Giving Allen Davis asked her to join the board of directors. From 2009 to 2011, she served as a board member and became president of the GCC Foundation from 2011-2014.

“It’s just terribly sad,” said Pura of Esser’s passing. “It’s a true loss to the community and certainly to the college.”

Pura recalled her “strength, power, intelligence, and conviction to succeed,” and commended her efforts as leader of the GCC Foundation when she worked to raise money for the college.

“She is an incredible alumni role model for many in the community who come to GCC who look to ... change their lives for the better,” he said. “She understood their journey because of her own.”

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Esser was also an integral part of The Franklin County Futures Lab Task Force, working as a co-chair with Hon. Thomas T. Merrigan. This task force was a part of a project called Reinventing Justice 2022, a 30-year road map for change in Massachusetts.

Despite the fact that Merrigan and Esser met in the late 1970s as lawyers on the opposite sides of a civil case, they became exceptional friends and colleagues.

Merrigan described Esser as “gracious, confident, and very smart.”

“She was tough, always prepared, and served her clients very well and they loved her,” Merrigan continued. “She was universally respected … and she was absolutely dedicated to the community — especially GCC.”

Merrigan often sought Esser out as a fellow lawyer for professional advice, noting that she always had a wealth of practical advice and was constantly willing to help.

“She was a wonderful human being,” he said. “I’m so fortunate to have counted her as a friend and a colleague.”

Esser’s family plans a celebration of her life on Saturday, March 3, at 4 p.m. in the Library Atrium of Greenfield Community College. Attendees will be invited to share their memories of her in poetry, prose, song, or image. Light refreshments will be served. Those with digital images to share, can upload them to http://bit.ly/DianeEsserMemories

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in her name to the Maynard House in Hanover, N.H. The Maynard House is a nonprofit guest house for patients, their caregivers and their families, through the website maynardhouse.org.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:


or 413-772-0261, ext. 280