Dr. Astrid (Egner) Liland

Hardwick, Mass. — Dr. Astrid Liland, 72, died Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, surrounded by family at her beloved Maple Hill Farm in Hardwick, Mass.

Astrid was born April 22, 1940, in Greverud, Norway. She was born at home because her mother was unable to reach the hospital in Oslo due to the chaos generated by the German invasion of Norway 13 days previously. Her parents, Ragnhild and Leif H. Egner, owned and operated a small general store, and both Astrid and her older sister, Solveig, were expected to help the family by working in the store during vacations and after school. Although the years after the war were very lean ones, both for the family business and the country as a whole, her childhood was a happy one, and she had many fond memories of her loving parents and the domestic animals the family kept, which included chickens, cats, dogs, cows and sheep.

Following graduation from high school, Astrid pursued her childhood dream of going to medical school, enrolling at the University of Bergen, Norway. She graduated in 1967 and then completed an internship in general practice in Norway. While in medical school, Astrid met her future husband, Jon B. Liland, and the two were married on Nov. 20, 1969.

Following completion of her internship, Astrid and her husband emigrated to the United States. In Boston, she completed a residency in anesthesiology and a clinical and research fellowship in anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, at a time when being female and a non-native English speaker in her field was considered unusual.

Following completion of her fellowship and several years of work at MGH as an anesthesiologist, Astrid joined the faculty of the nascent Anesthesia department at UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., in 1978, where she would spend the next 32 years as a clinical anesthesiologist and assistant professor. Her particular focus was anesthesia for ambulatory procedures, and she eventually became head of anesthesia for day surgery. She was known for her organization, calm, dedication to her job and her patients, and compassion for others, whether her patients or her students.

Her first son, Jon Sigurd Egner Liland, was born in 1971, during Astrid’s residency. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Maple Hill Farm in Hardwick, Mass. Her second son, Leif Erik Egner Liland, was born in 1978.

Astrid loved her family deeply and showed it by her selfless dedication to her boys and to her husband throughout her life. She was a quiet pillar of strength for her family, both practical and compassionate, and she held the family together with her unconditional love, unceasing hard work, commitment to positive thinking and strong character.

Astrid never forgot her native Norway, and traveled home to visit every summer, particularly her beloved sister and family. She made sure that both her sons learned to speak Norwegian fluently, and insisted upon speaking exclusively Norwegian at home. Christmas was her favorite holiday, and she worked very hard to ensure that it was celebrated with both joy and with respect for Norwegian cultural traditions.

Her grandsons, Finn Erik and Sigurd Egner, were born in 2006 and 2010, respectively. “Nana,” as they called her, was overjoyed at their arrival and spent as much time with them as possible. Finn in particular has very strong memories of Nana’s love and her joyful presence.

Astrid loved her dogs, bluebirds, knitting, gardening at the farm, cross-country skiing and welcoming visitors to her home. She was a good listener, with a sparking sense of humor and appreciation for the perspectives of others. She was a wonderful baker and cook, and cared deeply about her neighbors and friends. She always traveled with her black doctor’s bag in the car, and she was very proud of having saved lives as a good samaritan in several traffic accidents, a serious cycling accident, and the cardiac arrest at home of a neighbor and friend.

Unfortunately, Astrid suffered a devastating cerebral hemorrhage on the morning of June 3, 2011, arriving back at the UMass emergency room as a patient less then 12hours after she finished working there the night before. She was only four months away from her planned retirement.

Despite the best efforts of her colleagues at UMass medical center and her family, she succumbed to complications arising from her injuries on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, after a long and difficult struggle, which she endured with the same uncomplaining toughness and endurance that marked everything she did.

Astrid is survived by her husband, Jon Brynjulv Liland, of Hardwick, Mass.; by her oldest son, Jon Sigurd Egner Liland, his wife, Blakeley Murrell-Liland, and their sons Finn Erik Abbot Liland and Sigurd Egner Allen Liland, of Hartland, Vt.; by her youngest son, Leif Erik Egner Liland, of Denver, Colo.; and by her sister, Solveig Bruun, and Solveig’s husband, Bjarne Bruun, of Greverud, Norway.

A memorial service will be held at the First Universalist Church, 9 Ruggles Hill Road, Hardwick, Mass., on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at 11 a.m., to be followed immediately by a reception at Maple Hill Farm.

Miles Funeral Home, 1158 Main St., Holden, Mass., is assisting the family with arrangements. To share a memory or offer an online condolence, visit www.milesfuneralhome.com.