Lillian Hershfield

8 March, 192216 October, 2020

Lillian Hershfield, whose career in the Methuen Public Schools spanned three decades, as a high school teacher, English Department Chair and Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator, died October 16 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl. She was 98. She enjoyed a reputation as a no-nonsense yet compassionate instructor, who inspired her students to embrace literary luminaries like Shakespeare and Tennyson and taught them to deconstruct a split infinitive or a dangling participle with ease. At school she was affectionately known to students and staff by two monikers: Mrs. H and Diamond Lil. She often remained in her office long after the final bell to assist a student or a colleague. During her years as English Department Chair, she had the great pleasure of hiring several of her former students as teachers. While curriculum coordinator, Mrs. Hershfield was a leader on the team that brought the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee to the Methuen Public Schools, and in the evenings, she taught writing and journalism at Merrimack College. She was recognized with several teaching awards during her career.

Lillian Goldman was born in Scranton, PA., on March 8, 1922 to Ralph and Esther Goldman. During World War I her father served with the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front under the command of General John J. Pershing. Her mother was a homemaker, devoted to her and her younger brother. Mrs. Hershfield graduated with honors from Central High School and earned a scholarship to Temple University, where she majored in journalism, was a four-year Dean’s List student and was elected to membership in Kappa Tau Alpha for her academic excellence and scholarship in journalism. Upon graduation, she joined the editorial staff of the Scranton Times, covering politics, crime and general assignments throughout Northeastern Pa. Though she was the newsroom’s lone female reporter, she quickly earned the respect of her male colleagues, the politicians in city hall and the police on her beat. She often said her favorite interview was Eleanor Roosevelt. She remained with the Times until she became the Executive Director of the Tuberculosis Society of Northeastern PA. She met her future husband on a blind date in Miami Beach and moved to his native MA after their marriage in Scranton.

Mrs. Hershfield’s husband Joseph died in 1990. She is survived by her two children, Selma Urman of Newton, Ma.; and Lee Hershfield (Yael) of Palm Beach County, Fl.; five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and her brother, Lee Arnold of New Jersey.

Burial is Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Sons of Israel Cemetery, 111 Beacon St. Lawrence, Ma.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Lillian’s name to the Joslin Diabetes Center or the Anti-Defamation League!/donation/checkout


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Marilyn Hyder

November 14, 2020

What a lady Lillian was. I met her and her husband, Joe, when I went to Israel over 40 years ago. They were my seat mates on El Al. She and I shared our love of teaching and they made sure I missed nothing. As the only "shiksa" on the trip, they made sure I understood what Israel is all about. Over the years, we would correspond, sending letters at holidays. Lillian always had an upbeat note in her cards. I spoke to her a few years ago when a hurricane hit her area of Florida. She was delighted to hear from me, assured me she was fine, and we had a nice chat.
Lillian was elegant. She was always beautifully turned out. And she had a lovely laugh. A good friend.

Dean Brouder

November 4, 2020

Lilian. This woman was one of the biggest influences of my life in Methuen Public Schools.
I started in 1975 working for her in the English Dept and she was so patient with me. She always supported me during my difficult initial years and remained a loyal friend for her entire life. There would always be a Christmas card from Singer Land waiting for me.
She always kept us in line but had a loyal Dept that would be difficult to emulate today.
I will always remember her loyalty and 45 years later as I walk into MHS I often think what she would make of this palace. Thank you Lil!

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