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At Smith, a graduate's death in Iraq is mourned

Dr. Roselle Hoffmaster, a Smith College graduate who died Friday while serving in the US Army in Iraq, was remembered fondly yesterday at the Northampton institution.

"You couldn't find a more caring or compassionate person," said Carla Coffey, who coached Hoffmaster in cross country and track and field. "She's a giver. She's the ultimate team person who gave her all."

Hoffmaster, 32, an Army captain, died of non-combat-related causes in Kirkuk, in Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

A native of Cleveland, Hoffmaster graduated from Smith with a biochemistry degree in 1998. She attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University and was commissioned into the Army Medical Corps in 2004. In July, she was assigned as a surgeon to the 10th Mountain Division, First Brigade Combat Team, and deployed to Iraq this month.

The Army has released no further details on the circumstances of her death. The investigation is ongoing, Fort Drum spokesman Benjamin Abel said.

Christine White-Ziegler, a Smith College professor, said that Hoffmaster was "a real star, just off the charts in terms of her academics."

"She was just a very easygoing and approachable person," White Siegler said. "You could see her concern for others."

"It's very sad for the whole Smith community," Coffey said. "We're very saddened by her death."

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