Rita Dorothea Driscoll

of Fitchburg, MA; 91

FITCHBURG -- Rita D. Driscoll, 91, of Fitchburg, MA, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at Notre Dame Long Term Care Facility in Worcester, MA, after a long illness.

She was born on September 3, 1921 in Fitchburg, MA, the daughter of Cornelius and Julia (Shea) Driscoll. She lived all of her life in Fitchburg, MA, caring for her parents and extended family while pursing a career in nursing and education. She graduated from St. Bernard's Catholic High School in 1939, and worked for five years as a secretary, earning her way through Burbank School of Nursing and receiving her diploma in 1947. She continued her work at Burbank Hospital, as the head nurse of the Ambulatory Care Unit for three years, until she embarked on a career in public health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health In Northern Worcester County, Worcester, and Boston. She pursued a career as an epidemiologist public health nurse from 1950 - 1964, while she continued her education, receiving her bachelor's degree from Clark University in 1960 and her master's degree from Boston University in 1964. She continued on to receive a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - C.A.G.S.- from Boston University in 1971. Her master's and doctoral work included curriculum development, learning theory and application, applied educational research and evaluation and experience with teaching nursing research. In 1981, she received her doctorate from Nova University.

She returned to Fitchburg Teachers College in 1964 and was instrumental in establishing the Department of Nursing and training hundreds of nurses, now serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States. As Professor of Nursing, she served as Chairperson of the department for several years. She was a key figure in curriculum design and development, and served on planning and by laws committees and the planning program for clinical preceptors. She also served as the Chair of the National League for Nursing Accreditation Faculty Sub-Committee Representative to NECHEN. She was a mentor to many faculty who would continue to develop the Department of Nursing at Fitchburg State University.

She was a member of the American Nurses Association ,the National League of Nursing, the Nursing Honor Society, International Sigma Theta Tau, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, the National Education Association and a member of the Alumni Associations of the Burbank School of Nursing, Boston University, Clark University, Nova University.

She served her community as a corporate member of Central MA Health Systems agency, and a member of the Professional Advisory Committees for the Fitchburg VNA and the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health. She volunteered for the Nashoba Hospice Program.

In her retirement, she traveled to Australia, Arizona, Italy, France, Holland, and Ireland with her sisters and continued her association with nursing colleagues and societies. She was a frequent visitor of the Fitchburg YMCA, and a daily communicant at St. Bernard's Church. She was known for her amazing skills as a master cook and pastry chef, and a wonderful hostess. She was also known for her lively spirit and her talent for the jitterbug.

She is survived by her sister, Margaret Testarmata of West Boylston, MA; her brothers, John Driscoll of Phoenix, Arizona, and Neil Driscoll of Lynn, MA; and many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, who fondly knew her as Aunti Rita and ReRe. She was predeceased by her two brothers, Bernard Driscoll and Edward Driscoll, and eight sisters, Theresa Driscoll, Madeline Driscoll, Nora Walsh, Eileen Pernokas, Pauline Thomas, Catherine Turcotte and Mary Mullahy.

The funeral will be held on Sat., Oct. 6, 2012 with a Mass at 11a.m. in St. Bernard Parish @ St. Camilllus De Lellis Church, 333 Mechanic St., Fitchburg, MA. Calling hours will be from 8:30 to 10:30 AM preceding the Mass at Lavery, Chartrand & Alario Funeral Home, 99 Summer St., Fitchburg, MA. In lieu of flowers, donation may be made to Alternative House, Inc., P.O. Box 2100, Lowell, MA 01851.

Published in Sentinel & Enterprise from Oct. 4 to Oct. 5, 2012