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Paula Duston

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Published in The Keene Sentinel on March 29, 2024

Paula Stamps Duston of Chesterfield passed away peacefully on March 22, 2024, at Maplewood Nursing Home. During her last days she was always in the company of one or more of her family and friends who came to comfort her. She will be missed by all.

She was born in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1946, spending her youth in Bartlesville, Okla., where she graduated from College High School in 1964. In high school she won a trip to participate in the National Science Fair.

She earned a PhD in human ecology in 1970 from the University of Oklahoma, and then spent the remainder of her life as a New Englander, working from 1972 to the time of her passing in the School of Public Health at UMass — Amherst. She has been a full professor for many years, a position that back in the 1980s was very difficult for a woman to achieve. Recently she retired from teaching and became the Graduate Program Director in the School of Public Health.

The author of six books, the most recent, “Understanding Biological Emergencies, from Bioterrorism to Pandemics,” will be published posthumously by Routledge Press. Several of her other books involve the degree of work satisfaction of medical professionals; the best known is “The Index of Work Satisfaction,” the index from which has been given to nurses in more than 40 countries.

She was honored at UMass for outstanding teaching, and a graduate student award has been established in her name. The newly created Paula Stamps Award in the School of Public Health will be given to a graduate student who demonstrates “the high level of scholarship, compassion and dedication to UMass” shown through the years by Professor Stamps.

Paula was an avid outdoor person with a strong interest in walking, hiking, swimming, snowshoeing and bicycling. Her indoor interests were reading, socializing with friends and piano playing (which she did because she couldn’t afford it as a kid). She loved to travel and even went on long train trips to the West with her train-loving husband, Tom, and their two younger children, Christopher and Jessi. She loved playing recently with her two young grandchildren, particularly if it also involved playing in the sand at the ocean, a place that held a special magic for her. She got the most out of her life.

She is survived by Tom Duston, her husband of 45 years, someone with whom she hiked most of the White Mountains’ 4,000-footers. She has five children: Katie and her husband, Tresor, of Haverhill, Mass.; Matt and his wife, Sally, of Peterborough; Lara and her husband, Dave, of Conway, Mass.; Christopher and his wife, Jen, of Rowley, Mass.; and Jessi and her husband, Nathaniel of Derry. She has six grandchildren, all of whom she loves, four of which are adults and two are children. The latter, Fiona, age 6, and Pippin, age 3, she particularly adored as they came into her late life. She has two brothers, Jack and his wife, Carol, of Cave Creek, Ariz.; and Jeff and his wife, Beth Ann, of Tulsa, Okla.

There will be a memorial service for Paula in Chesterfield later in the spring. Arrangements around the passing are being handled by The Cremation Society of New Hampshire.

Donations may be given in her name to Compassionate Care ALS.