NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Professor Dave Fagerstrom

Professor Dave Fagerstrom, who served as an instructor of economics and college success for nearly six years at NECC, passed away on Friday, April 24, 2015 at the age of 68.

Fagerstrom was born in Stamford, CT and later moved to Massachusetts with his family, where he graduated from Watertown High School in 1964. Shortly after his graduation, Fagerstrom joined the U.S. Navy as an electronic technician and ended up serving in the Caribbean and off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

After his military service, Fagerstrom went back to school and earned his BA at UMass Lowell and his MBA from Suffolk University in the mid 1970s. He then went on to a successful career in market research and analysis, which spanned over 30 years.

After years of acquiring experience in his field, Fagerstrom became an adjunct professor at NECC in the fall of 2009. In that role, he combined his knowledge and skills in economics with his passion for teaching, which enhanced the learning experience of his students through applying his extensive familiarity with the subject. However, Fagerstrom’s love for teaching wasn’t limited to just the classroom setting.

“He [was] always very caring when it [came] to his students,” said Ginger Hurajt, writing professor and current head of the Student Affairs Committee and Honors program at NECC. “He [was] always in his office with his door open, willing to help his students,” she added.

In addition to teaching at NECC, Fagerstrom also taught economics courses at night at Southern New Hampshire University and the American College of History and Legal Studies.

Even with his very busy teaching schedule, Fagerstrom always managed to find time to become involved at NECC, to include: being an active member of NECC’s Contemporary Affairs Club, serving as a union representative for adjunct professors at NECC, and serving as a member of the Staff and Faculty Inquiry Group (SFIG), where he helped establish universal course design.

“Even though Dave was not a full-timer, he turned up to meetings out of genuine care and concern about teaching and the policies of NECC,” said Meredith Gunning, professor of philosophy at NECC. Gunning also remarked that she has always been “impressed” by Fagerstrom’s open-mindedness and kind-heartedness when dealing with others.

“He would send me articles on religion and philosophy out of sheer curiosity and as a way of sparking deeper learning,” said Gunning. On a professional level, she also remarked that his progressiveness and willingness to work alongside others of different disciplines created a more welcoming atmosphere within NECC’s Global Studies Department.

In addition to Fagerstrom’s involvement with committees and student clubs, he was also a member of NECC’s Veterans’ Writing Group—the first person to join, that is, according to Paul Saint-Amand, founder of the Veterans’ Writing Group, professor of English at NECC and Vietnam-era U.S. Air Force veteran.

“At our first [Veterans’ Writing Group] meeting, it was only the two of us, so we had a real chance to share our service experiences,” said Saint-Amand. Since joining the Veterans’ Writing Group, Saint-Amand stated that Fagerstrom became very interested in writing about his experiences, and has, in effect, “dug deep” into the art of memoir writing. “Dave has begun to bring [his] experiences together as a book,” said Saint-Amand.

As a result of his passion to write, Fagerstrom had begun a writing initiative for his College Success students, where he asked them to write at least several hundred words between each class period as part of an ongoing, journal-like assignment. Always striving to be an example to his students, Fagerstrom pushed himself to write upwards of over one thousand words between each class as both a personal challenge and as a way to motivate his students.

Fagerstrom’s written adventures include many exciting tales from his time in the U.S. Navy, to include his involvement in Caribbean training operations, almost being cast out to sea by what’s known to sailors as a “rogue wave,” and his experience in helping provide long distance gun support for troops on the ground in Vietnam.

His choices in story writing reflected his great pride in his military service and his status as a veteran. In active support of his service and all those who’ve served, he often wore his U.S. Navy service cap, which had the name of his ship, the U.S.S. Warrington, spelled across the top of it; and he would also stroll about NECC with his large wooden walking stick, which had a Vietnam service bead-pattern dangling near the top of it. Many might agree that Fagerstrom was very recognizable from far off to all those who knew him.

The effect Professor Fagerstrom has had on NECC and all of his past students cannot rightly be measured, but many would agree that he has performed above the standard with honor, as both an American and an educator. He has been an invaluable source of knowledge and kindness at NECC, and his aura will be sorely missed.

Fagerstrom’s funeral was held on April 30th 2015 in Haverhill. Donations in Dave Fagerstrom’s memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675. Online condolences may be sent to

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