Margaret Ashida’s family hosted a reception celebrating Margaret’s life on January 17th, 2015 at the Hawkins-Carlson room at the Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester River Campus, Rochester NY.  The event included displays highlighting Margaret’s life, accomplishments, dedication to education, and lasting impact on those she encountered.  Thank you to all who contributed and attended. 

 For the good of the order


Posted by Mary Margaret Small on June 15, 2022
Happy Birthday! I see a dirty martini and a toast to you in my future!

PS- I'm a grandma now to a baby boy. Mom is a U of R alum like you and both parents are UR Med School grads! Meliora!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on October 6, 2021
Your physical presence may have left us, but your spirit lives on. You'd be surprised (and pleased, I hope) at how often you pop up in discussions and conversations!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on June 15, 2021
Happy Birthday! I will toast you with a dirty martini! Cheers
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on June 15, 2020
Happy birthday, girlfriend! Wish you were here to celebrate. I miss you more than you could ever know.
Posted by Jennifer Topp on November 1, 2019
Tonight of all nights I thought to myself, I wonder what Margaret is doing these days. I did a google search and I am in shock - absolute shock, for the loss of this wonderous, incredible soul I knew so well at IBM. I see it has been 5 years now since she passed and my heart goes out to the family. We never get over the loss of a loved one. Margaret was one of a kind. I loved that woman! I am so sorry. 
Posted by Terry Schaack on October 5, 2019
It still seems so wrong that you are gone. Your effects on those of us still here however is not gone.
Posted by Sheila Appel on October 5, 2019
Dear Margaret, I’m not sure that a STEM event goes by without thinking of you! May you Rest In Peace my friend, we miss you and your amazing smile!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on October 5, 2019
Hello Girlfriend! I am thirsty, so thirsty and you are not here to drink with . I miss you.

Know that you are remembered and spoken of often. Your impact lives on!

Posted by Sheila Appel on October 5, 2017
Our beloved Margaret, it is so hard to believe that it has been 3 years since we lost your light. I had the pleasure to work with Margaret at IBM and then the real treat, was I got to work even closer with her as she lead the Empire State STEM initiative. In both cases, I never found a more dedicated individual to making a difference for the cause. I will forever be blessed by having worked with Margaret. I join a very long list of those that admired and loved you our dear friend -- I miss you dearly. With love, Sheila
Posted by Gwendolyn Maturo-Grasso on June 23, 2017
Margaret's "Waves of Change for STEM Education" ROLL ON!!!

The 3rd annual Margaret Ashida STEM Leadership Awards will be presented at the NYS STEM Education Collaborative's Summer Institute at SUNY Alfred on July 31st!!! The winners are selected based on their qualities of leadership that evoke memories of Margaret's work on behalf of America's children and STEM Workforce.

For more info:
Posted by Donna DeSiato on June 15, 2017
New York State is one of 3 states to win the STEMx Challenge! Your legacy continues!!!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on October 6, 2016
Margaret, the pain of loosing you just doesn't go away. So often in meetings your name comes up and the feeling of deep loss surfaces once again. Your light still shines brightly. The impact you had is felt by so many, not just by me.We know you are guiding our thoughts and decision making. ..and toasting our progress with a dirty martini and a wink! I miss you, my friend.
Posted by Mary Keough on October 5, 2016
Dearest friend and colleague, you are forever in our hearts.  Your time here was too short. May you be at peace until the end of time.
Posted by Terry Schaack on October 5, 2016
Margaret lived more life in 58 years than most people do in a much longer life. I continue to be grateful she spent some of it with me.
Posted by Cheryl Davidson on October 5, 2016
Margaret's work and passion continues on. Her spirit continues to inspire.
Posted by Donna DeSiato on October 5, 2016
Margaret's impact on the world continues and it is a tribute to her life & memory to witness the positive influence she had on so many! She will be forever missed.
                          Most sincerely,
                              Donna DeSiato
Posted by Suzanne Needles on June 16, 2016
Margret was born 60 years ago. Would that we would all have had the pleasure of your company for a little longer. The time you shared with us was always quality time, always personal, and always very efficient at accomplishing the most possible work, mission, drive and heart. You lived well and we miss you every day.
Posted by Mary Keough on February 4, 2016
I was so very sorry to hear about the passing of Maragaret. Margaret was my manager and mentor at IBM, and a dear friend.  She was very supportive, super smart, with a great sense of humor. We had many wonderful times working together on Extreme Blue. She was passionate about life and everything she did, with a creative and caring spirit. She proudly spoke of her father and nephew whom she loved dearly. She will be missed by many. Her spirit will live on in so many ways and I will always remember her. With fond memories, Mary Keough
Posted by Cheryl Davidson on October 6, 2015
It is hard to believe that a year has passed. Margaret continues to be an inspiration. It is an honor to carry on the wonderful work and initiatives that she has created
Posted by Gwendolyn Maturo-Grasso on October 5, 2015
To Margaret's family & friends...
Please know that the NYS STEM Education Collaborative seeks to keep the waves of change set forth by Margaret rolling forward by honoring 3 Outstanding STEM LEaders each year at our annual conference.

Next round of nominations will open in January and be awarded at the 2016 NYS STEM Education Collaborative Summer Institute at NYIT's Long Island campus July 10-12, 2016. Please join us as we celebrate a powerful life energy honoring Margaret!

Please follow this link to read about the first year's winners:
Posted by Donna DeSiato on June 15, 2015
Today we are in Columbus, Ohio, the place that we first met Margaret. Margaret's legacy lives on as we prepare to present as one of 16 School Districts in the country at the Battelle Showcase of Schools. This is a tribute to the influence of Margaret. She will be forever missed and forever remembered.
Posted by Joan Turner on January 22, 2015
Dear Janet, 
I was saddened to read about your sister's passing in the rochester review. It has been so many years since high school and college but I remember many things from that time. Condolences to you and your family. Joan Baker Turner
Posted by Allan Berry on January 21, 2015
Dear Janet, We are so sad to hear of Margaret's passing and so happy that she was able to share her talents with this world for 58 years. She is a beautiful person and we feel fortunate to have known her. It is so many years ago that you and your sister were such a vibrant part of Brockport High School. Allan and Jean Berry
Posted by Jim Lavin on January 19, 2015
I wish to offer my sympathy to those close to Margaret. She was a fellow U of Rochester student of mine in the span from 1974-77. She was always lovely to cross paths with….one of those frequent places was as a fellow food service worker on work study at the U of R's Danforth Dining Hall. Margaret was always a sweet and friendly person to meet up with. Since I left the U of R in 1977 (almost 38 years ago), I lost contact with her, but she left a warm and friendly impression that stays with me to today. Blessings and my sympathies to her spouse and family and dear friends who miss her.
Posted by Bill Graves on January 16, 2015
Janet-san ... So sorry to hear of your family's loss. I hope the celebration of her life brings peace and joy! Our best wishes are always with you! Bill and Joan Graves
Posted by Eric Joseph on January 16, 2015
Dear Janet, We are so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, we can't make the memorial, but our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Eric & Dorothy
Posted by James Gosnell on January 15, 2015
I was saddened to hear of Margaret's passing last October. The last time I saw Margaret was at our high school graduation in 1974. She was a good friend throughout our times in high school, and I always thought that she was one person who would go on to do great things in her life. I am pleased to see that she made such a positive impact on so many people.
Posted by Denise Eassa Wilson on January 14, 2015
How could you be gone Margaret? Weren't we just at U of R a few short years ago? Didn't I just see you hanging out with Bob O.? Although I hadn't seen you in many years you were always so kind and so smart in college. May you rest in peace.
Posted by Amy Amrhein on January 14, 2015
Like Jeffrey Becker, I knew Margaret at the University of Rochester. We were housemates for a summer and friends through the student government network. Her smile and laugh were infectious and I looked up to her as one of the smartest people I had met. She remains an inspiration to me. I read of her passing in the Rochester Review and am stunned. I regret not keeping in touch and sharing our life journeys. From what I have read, she fulfilled her potential as a human being. I would not have expected less. BTW...I hope she found a way to eliminate the ever-present fatal flaw in her wardrobes. She said "there is always something just not quite right." And then she would laugh. Amy Warnick Amrhein
Posted by Karen Mackey on January 13, 2015
Dear Janet--I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Posted by Jeffrey Becker on January 13, 2015
I knew Margaret during my days at the University of Rochester where we were involved in student government. She was so smart, so able to communicate, and had such an ability to make those around her feel good about themselves. Although our paths had not crossed since the University of Rochester, she was an inspiration to me and I always felt good that I had known her.
Posted by Donna DeSiato on January 13, 2015
In September 2010 I met Margaret on our Learning Tour to Metro in Columbus, Ohio and Lake Travis High School in Arizona. From the first moments of engaing with Margaret her intelligence, commitment, creativity, experience, caring and compassion was a magnet. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed Margaret became advisor, mentor and friend to myself and our team at East Syracuse Minoa. Margaret's leadership was instrumental in guiding the development and successful launch of the CNY STEM Hub. To date we have hosted more than 70 districts from 6 different states in Learning Tours at ESM with the ongoing support of Margaret. In August of 2014, Margaret joined us for the first annual Collaborative Educators' Summit and shared meaningful messages about our current work and the foundation for the future. Margaret's legacy is impacting our current students, teachers, administrators, leaders, higher education and business partners and will do so for many generations to follow. I can truly say that my life and the lives of many others has been enriched and blessed in knowing Margaret.
Posted by Emily DeRocco on October 28, 2014
Margaret, dear friend, we so often found ourselves in the same forums, at the same podium, with the same networks . . . I just reached out to ask you to join me in yet another new venture to "organize more pieces" of the global education, workforce development, economic agenda "puzzle" to which we have devoted so much of our time together. With you, I feel I learned at the feet of the master . . . you were colleague, mentor, friend. I will miss you.  But I will always remember.  With love, Emily
Posted by Marian Norton Miller on October 23, 2014
Margaret was my colleague at IBM and mentor. I so appreciate the time spent with her and her guidance, tips and traps to avoid. Still bring a smile to my face. I could always count on her friendship. Thank you Margaret for being you.
Posted by Hilary Reilly on October 22, 2014
I know Margaret as a member of our 21st Century Education team where she was instrumental in assisting us with the development of the 10 key learnings for STEM education. She joined our Greater Capital Region Workforce Coalition group when we were finalizing our document and gave us the frame of reference that was essential to its completion. Our work has been recognized by the Board of Regents and is, in part, responsible for the STEM pathway under consideration for NY State. Unfortunately, this is the second colleague I have lost within a year from that committee. Dr. Joseph Bowman, former Regent himself, also passed away. I commit to completing the work that we started and to see their passion fulfilled for NY State students. They will be missed dearly and remembered fondly.
Posted by Suzanne Needles on October 20, 2014
Margaret will always be in Paradise.

Please go to the Gallery tab and select "video" for pictures of her Indonesidan Tribute from Dale and Suzanne Needles

Our friend of thirty years was very excited to be going on a well-deserved and long-planned vacation in Indonesia. Margaret flew from New York and met my husband Dale and I in the Singapore airport. She lived in airports --never holding still-- as she simply had too much living to do. Margaret worked harder than anyone we know and played even harder.  She volunteered endlessly and held all her family, friends and colleagues closely. She did nothing without limitless energy and passion. With her, everything and everyone was personal. She had that unique talent of making you feel like you were the only person on the planet when you were with her.

We flew to the Island of Sulawesi and reached Lembeh Straits on a Saturday, October 4, 2014. Her smile as we arrived at the resort was as wide as the tropical sky. The next morning she lost consciousness at the surface of the ocean and the world will never be the same.

As the sun rose over calm waters a few short days later, the gardener was already busy preparing the soil for the Magaret Ashida Memorial Garden. The staff of Kungkungan Bay Resort joined hands with us in a large circle and sang. We walked the path to Margaret's cabin. A member of the staff played the guitar softly in front of a large boulder where fronds of a beautiful purple flowering tree and several slips of red banana flowers were waiting for planting. Several folks took turns digging into the soil and turning it to prepare for new life. Kind words were spoken and songs were sung. We spoke of the amazing woman that she was and of all the many lives she had touched so many thousands of miles away. 

In the afternoon, we gathered in a serene room filled with tropical flowers where Margaret's favorite photo of her sailing past the Golden Gate bridge was framed by candles. We spoke of her good life and her large heart. Dale talked about how Margaret was the embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi's maxim, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Music and song filled the room.

At sunset, we went by boat to Serena island where we lost her and threw blossoms into the sea as the sky changed to dusk over the waves and across the waters under the shadow of a dramatic volcanoe. A beautiful tribute to a life well lived. The first of many for such a special woman.
Posted by Barry Nathan on October 20, 2014
I only met Margaret a few times, but was struck by her passion for her mission and her compassion towards those she served, including and especially students. She will be missed.
Posted by Mike Tucker on October 19, 2014
Margaret was a true visionary with “get it done” passion for STEM education. Her energy, intellectual curiosity and her attention to detail leave a true legacy to the future of education across the US. On a personal level, she was a strong mentor and friend. She will be greatly missed.

Mike Tucker
President & CEO
Center for Economic Growth
Albany, New York
Posted by Carl/Sharon Wheat on October 16, 2014
In 1974 a lady came to our door and said "you don't know me but my daughters are students at the High School and respect your husband,I want to help you" and from there a deep friendship with the Ashida family began. It is with sadness that we learn of Margaret's passing but what joy and accomplishments she gave the world. Elle and Sachio welcome her with open arms. We will be praying for all of you, Janet,Don and Alan
Posted by Pat Chute on October 16, 2014
I knew Margaret for only 5 hours as I sat next to her in a meeting in Albany just before she left for her trip. I feel cheated that it was only 5 hours but blessed that I had that opportunity. It was but a speck of time in the universe but what a lucky speck it was. She died doing something she loved although I suspect that there was not much in life that she didn't love. We owe it to her students, colleagues, family and friends to reach into the abyss of the water into which she dove to bring her memory above the waves and into the sunlight knowing she will be remembered for her greatness, warmth and incredible intellect. It was only 5 hours but what a great 5 hours they were.
Posted by Joe Dragone on October 15, 2014
The entire team at the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School will forever be grateful for Margaret’s leadership, guidance and mentorship helping our program become a reality. She will always be an inspiration for us, and her legacy will live on everyday as we remain faithful to her vision of staff and students fully immersed in authentic STEM teaching and learning. Margaret was a true friend to all of us; she will forever be our Champion.
Posted by brad mclain on October 15, 2014
I had lunch with Margaret just last month in Denver near the National Renewable Energy Lab. A perfect fall day, sitting outside over a couple of fizzy lemonades, and discussing both professional and personal things. We spoke of her wonderful appearance at our Xperience STEM conference in August, we spoke of Colorado's rapid STEM network growth over the past year, the STEMx network in general and philosophical terms, and we spoke of our common origins in Nebraska, our love of extraordinary experiences, and she promised to regale me with stories from Indonesia when we met next in November.

I've been in a depressed and sometimes angry funk since we heard the announcement last week. The size of the void created by our loss of Margaret is bigger and runs deeper than I could've imagined. As we all know in our work and our lives, rare are those empowering optimists who not only can make things happen, but also cause us to feel the joy of doing it together. She did just that.

I've roughly cut together a short compilation video from Margaret's appearance at our conference as part of a lunch panel -- on the Policy of Inspiration in STEM Learning. So wonderful to hear her voice, see her views, and be reminded of why she was so essential. It is posted on this site under the gallery videos. Peace.
Posted by Kenneth Chung on October 15, 2014
Margaret was an integral part of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc.(LEAP) and we are forever in debt to Margaret's contribution, her passion and her dedication to inspire and encourage Asian Pacific Islanders Americans to fully exploit our potentials. Many of us at LEAP learned so much from Margaret and was blessed by her guidance and counsel. I am still in disbelief of her passing and will for sure grieve for a very long time.
Margaret was such a positive influence and inspiration for so many of us at LEAP. I believe the best way to honor her legacy is to channel our grief and sorrow into energy in carrying on her work. We will use her inspiration to make a bigger impact. We wanted to make Margaret proud!
We will miss Margaret, our brilliant leader and a great friend.
Posted by Lynn & Barbara Adamson on October 15, 2014
How can you summarize a 30+ year combination of working relationship and friendship that was treasured? I had the privilege of working with Margaret in the 80’s at Xerox. Her intelligence, professionalism and work ethic were enough to make her a long term friend. But, as luck would have it, we joined the same ski cabin together – a cabin that became a very special place for my wife and I. Margaret’s energy, creativity, humor and flexibility opened the gateway to good times and lots of laughter. Because she was always kind, generous and willing to do more than her fare share, she was the perfect cabin mate. Whether it was our mutual interest in skiing, sailing, good food and wine or making the world a better place, we always had much to discuss. We shared many of life’s milestones together with a common group of friends. Margaret was an incredibly loyal and supportive friend and was always there for you. Over the years we valued her interest in STEM initiatives and have vicariously taken pride in her accomplishments. The world has lost an outstanding steward and we have lost a truly special friend.
Our thoughts are with her family and extensive group of friends.
Posted by Amber Ptak on October 15, 2014
I am absolutely devastated to hear this news. Margaret will be deeply missed by her STEM friends and my heart goes out to her family. Thank you, Margaret, for being a wonderful listener, a tireless advocate, an incredible leader, and a warm and engaging friend.
Posted by Amy Hirotaka on October 15, 2014
I admired Margaret for her passion and deep dedication to equity in STEM education. She was so generous with her time and expertise, and I am better at what I do because of her. Also, she was a warm, kind, wonderful person and I thoroughly enjoyed being in her presence. I hope to carry on her legacy and honor her amazing work and impact.
Posted by Eve Proffitt on October 15, 2014
Margaret has in the past two years become such a mentor to me working with STEMx in Kentucky. She instills positive vibes and is so supportive and encouraging of others. She is one of a kind and I, for one, will miss her strength, her dedication, and her amazing networking and knowledge base. We will all miss her as we go forth, but are challenged to now finish the work she started. My heartfelt sympathy to her family as they likewise go forth. God will definitely lead us all by supporting our footsteps as we venture ahead without Margaret's presence.
Posted by carol martinak on October 15, 2014
I adored Margaret from the moment I met her in junior high school. As smart as a whip, and she could always make me laugh.

We lost touch for many years and caught up a few years back. I couldn't believe my luck in finding her again. I am so sad she is gone.

She is one of the best people I have ever known.
Posted by Michelle Kavanaugh on October 15, 2014
Margaret was a beautiful soul who knew how to lift others up and leave her mark on all those who came into her world. She inspired me and so many others through her example and her words of encouragement, leading us into her ever-growing circle of those committed to STEM learning. Her legacy serves to spur us on in continuing the good work she was so suddenly required to leave behind.
Posted by Laurie Miller McNeill on October 15, 2014
Dear, dear Margaret! You were such a friend to all of us who cared about making the world a better place through education! You were my guide and inspiration in our planning of the STEM Stakeholders Conference for the Lower Hudson Valley - and your enthusiasm was contagious! You will be missed, dear Margaret! Thank you for being an instant friend in the common cause of STEM education. My most sincere condolences to your family, along with prayers for peace and eternal blessings!
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on June 15, 2022
Happy Birthday! I see a dirty martini and a toast to you in my future!

PS- I'm a grandma now to a baby boy. Mom is a U of R alum like you and both parents are UR Med School grads! Meliora!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on October 6, 2021
Your physical presence may have left us, but your spirit lives on. You'd be surprised (and pleased, I hope) at how often you pop up in discussions and conversations!
Posted by Mary Margaret Small on June 15, 2021
Happy Birthday! I will toast you with a dirty martini! Cheers
Recent stories

Student Memories

Shared by Allison Fogarty on January 28, 2015

Margaret’s most memorable attributes to me were her smile – she always seemed to be wearing one! –her energy and her positive attitude. In her world, everything was possible and she was going to make it happen.

Margaret was a year ahead of me at the University of Rochester, and while we did not keep in touch after she graduated, I’ve thought of her occasionally through the years. She and the late Jocelyn Moran recruited me into the University’s catering department; trained me and when Margaret graduated, I inherited her position as the University Catering Headwaitress. I owe both Margaret and Jocelyn a vote of thanks – that was the start of my 35-year career in the hospitality industry.

To me Margaret will always be young – I picture her in the black and white catering uniform (we looked like Edwardian parlormaids!), dressed in medieval robes at the head table of the annual Boar’s Head Dinner, or wielding the gavel at a student committee meeting.

My condolences to her family and friends, she was great woman when I knew her, and I know there must be a gaping hole in your lives.

One of My First U of R Friends

Shared by Tod Brown on January 17, 2015

I just finished reading my current copy of the Rochester Review and was absolutely shocked when I came upon the notice of Margaret’s passing. Given that I haven’t seen her in years, I am surprised how much her death has affected me.

I met Margaret during the first week of our freshman year at the U of R in 1974. Is that really 40 years ago? Her roommate was a close friend of mine whom I knew well from my hometown and often hung out with.

I was really impressed with Margaret. It was obvious how gifted she was but she modestly tried to hide it by being a-matter-of-fact about things. Eventually, it became very clear just how talented and wise this person was. In fact, as her academic and extracurricular life at the U of R continued and later throughout her professional career, nothing she accomplished surprised me.

But even with her beautiful mind, dedication, creativity, extremely hard work and everything else that goes into the making of a great talent, it was the grace through which she carried herself and the way she made everyone around her feel comfortable that impressed me most. She was a good person.  Her humbleness, ever-present smile and appreciation for others made those around her feel valued and important. It was through these qualities that she was able to lead and change this world.

To those who have known her, this is such a devastating loss. Though she has been taken from us far too soon, in writing, I just wanted to express how proud I am to have known her as a friend and how much she touched my life as it seems she touched those around her as well. My heartfelt condolences go out to her family and other friends. Be well Margaret. I already miss you.

Tremendous mentor who has given so much

Shared by Kelly Lyons on January 8, 2015

Margaret was a mentor of mine at IBM, a tremendous mentor.  She always had so much energy and was one of the most positive people I knew.  When we were together, she always made me feel as if anything was possible.  She had such an impact on so many people.   Margaret's commitment and strength should inspire us all to do wonderful things in her honour.