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"To me, Dobbs is about lifelong friendships. I was only there for a year-and-a-half, and the friends I made at school are the best friends I have. I love Dobbs because it had such a profound impact on me when I really needed it. When I got married and started having kids, the need for a more detailed will became apparent. There was no question that Dobbs would be a part of that process."

-- Courtney Walthour Lamontagne ’84

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"I hope that remembering Dobbs in my legacy will enable future students at The Masters School to have the same wonderful Dobbs experience."
-- Virginia Best Clarendon ‘43
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From the time she was in middle school, Estherwood Society member Nicole Pilevsky ’83 wanted to be a doctor. Though she had a clear goal in mind, her path to achieving it—which she did—was “slightly less direct.” She will also tell you that her two years at Dobbs were integral to helping her realize her life’s dream.

“I came my junior year from a large high school in Brooklyn,” Nicole shared. “There was definitely an adjustment period for me. The first few months were hard.” Nicole’s father became ill and passed away the summer before she started at Masters which added to the stress of being at a new school and away from home.

“Having lost my father, I came to rely heavily on the support system I had at Dobbs. My dorm mates, my friends, my teachers—especially Betsy Turner, my English teacher—were there for me in extraordinary ways. My senior year was spent surrounded by a loving, encouraging Dobbs family,” said Nicole. Some of her closest friendships she maintains today were formed at Dobbs.

Nicole completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis. “I was pre-med and a literature major. It was a lot of hard work, because I wanted to be a doctor and I loved literature and writing. My teachers at Dobbs had certainly prepared me!”

Nicole realized her goal of becoming a doctor, graduating from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1993. She is now a gynecologist, practicing in Maryland. Her husband of 25 years, Joseph Osheroff, is a fertility specialist and they have three wonderful sons, Sam, Daniel and Nathan.

When Nicole and her husband made their estate plans, there was “no question” she would include a gift to Masters. “After providing for our children, my husband and I wanted to recognize the organizations and institutions that helped us achieve our dreams,” said Nicole. “Tzedakah (charity) is one of the foundations of how we live and we are teaching our sons this obligation.”

“I want to see Masters continue to enrich students’ lives and help them achieve their dreams long after I am gone,” Nicole shared. “I’m proud to make Masters a part of my family’s legacy.”

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For Estherwood Society member Burma Bissell Bochner ’65, being a Masters alumna is a family tradition. Chances are, when you were at Masters, one of her extended family members, aunts, cousins, nieces or nephews, was there too. In fact, tracing her family tree at the school, the roots begin in the 1930s and extend to the present day.

For Burma and her relatives, giving back is as much a family tradition as attending the school itself. And, in another family tradition, Burma has followed in her mother’s footsteps by making a legacy gift to the school. She is giving a percentage of her estate to Masters in her will.

“My mother, Estherwood Society member Eleanor Merrick Bissell ’33, used to say ‘there are no pockets in shrouds,’” recalled Burma. Burma’s mother was a wonderful influence and role model, encouraging and supporting her children’s philanthropic endeavors. “Mom was so smart. She went to Vassar and was pre-Med. She loved that we had a room in the science building named for our family,” she said. “Mom was a big believer in giving unrestricted gifts. ‘You can’t control from the grave,’ she would say. ‘Trust them to do the right thing.’”

Burma’s father, Frank, also modeled the importance of philanthropy to his children. He was the wrestling coach at The Hill School and generously supported athletics during his lifetime. Burma, her sister, and brother grew up living on the Hill campus in Pottstown, though they spent summers in Rye, New York. It was from her father that she got the name “Burma.” Both her parents were avid sailors, and her father named Burma after the boat he owned when she was born. “Luckily, he no longer owned the boat named The Tarantula!” laughed Burma.

Those who know Burma know she has a wonderful sense of humor. They also know her tireless dedication and unwavering support to the school. For her exceptional support of and service to Dobbs, Burma received The Richmond Bowl in 2010, following her mother, who received it in 2005. Remarkably, she has served as her class agent since her graduation 50 years ago.

Burma enjoyed being back on campus for her 50th reunion weekend, with many of her class and some of her family in attendance. “Masters has the kind of values that should be encouraged today. There is so much diversity on campus. You can just feel the warmth and caring the students and faculty have for one another. We watched out for each other and learned to care about the world. I learned about service to community as a student,” said Burma.

Burma spent many years volunteering for a family shelter in Washington, DC as well as other endeavors. She and her husband Rick are active in local politics, though they concentrate their time in different areas. As a designer of the DC metro subway system, Rick focuses on logistics. Burma’s focus, not surprisingly, is on fundraising. “When I ask people for money, I tell them three good reasons to give,” shared Burma.

“My three reasons to give to Masters? 1. We need to pay it forward for the future students. 2. As my mother said ‘you can’t take it with you.’ And 3. I love the school—it’s a part of my family.”

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Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(914) 479-6400

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