The Women's Advancement Initiative Honors the Life of Jan Cassells Sweet ’65 (HCW)

Hartford College for Women alumna, Jan Cassells Sweet '65, recently passed away. She was a community volunteer, philanthropist, and friend of the University.

Jan Cassells Sweet '65 (HCW)
Jan Cassells Sweet '65 (HCW)

The Women’s Advancement Initiative honors the life of Jan Cassells Sweet, a Hartford College for Women alumna, community volunteer, and philanthropist, who died on April 28, 2024, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Jan had an enduring love for Hartford College for Women as it provided opportunities for education to her family.

“My mother, Violet Cassells, an advocate for women's education, encouraged my sister Joan and me to go to Hartford College,” she said.

“Joan was the first generation in our family to attend college and the first to graduate from Hartford College,” she added. “My sister, Barbara went to a teacher's college. I graduated from Hartford College in 1965, and then my niece, Donna Legner, was a 1977 graduate of Hartford College. Ours is a family of educated women inducing an extensive line of Hartford College graduates.”

After leaving Hartford College for Women, she lost touch with many classmates. However, she had the chance to reconnect and reminisce about her good experiences with friends at her Class of 1965 50th reunion.

Jan was fond of her Hartford College for Women experience and with how the legacy is carried on by today’s students in The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) program.

Jan’s dear friend, Rod Auclair, said that Amy Barzach, executive director of The Women’s Advancement Initiative, and the LEAD students were the best family she had outside of her own family.

In 2018, she established the Jan Cassells Sweet HCW’65 and Joan Cassells Morgan HCW’53 Leadership Education and Development Endowed Fund. Jan also met with students and sponsored their participation in the LEAD program annually. Her sister, Joan Morgan, passed away on December 13, 2003.


Ours is a family of educated women inducing an extensive line of Hartford College graduates.

Jan Cassells Sweet '65, Hartford College for Women alumna

In an article published by Haddam Killingworth Now, Jan was also recognized as one of Haddam Connecticut’s greatest volunteers. She was a fierce history advocate, staunch preservationist, and consummate hostess. For many years she served as the Haddam Town Historian. In that capacity, she increased awareness of the fascinating history of that community.  She had an area of Haddam listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She fought to save the Haddam Jail. In addition, Jan pursued her passions by contributing to many local organizations including the Haddam Historical Society, the Haddam Garden Club, the Old Burial Yard at Thirty Mile Plantation Cemetery, the Haddam Land Trust, and Brainerd Memorial Library.

As the former executive director of the Haddam Historical Society, of which she was a longtime member and supporter, Jan hosted gatherings, donated the Sweet Garden Shed and established the summer camp scholarship program. 

Jan gave thirty-six years to the Haddam Garden Club. She served as president, was on many committees and was dedicated to preserving Field Park. She generously shared her gardens with the club and donated the wonderful, whimsical figures for the club’s Butterfly Garden at the library.

As president of the cemetery association that watches over the Old Burial Yard at 30 Mile Island, she invested hours matching forty headstones that had been stolen decades before. 

The Haddam Land Trust was also a recipient of Jan’s generosity. She supported the preservation of our land and woods as well as our historic buildings. Many fundraisers were hosted by Jan in her beautiful home.

She was an avid reader and a constant supporter of Brainerd Memorial Library. She could often be seen walking from her house to the library, even when she required a walker for support.

Jan had a huge heart and will be dearly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. The Women’s Advancement Initiative appreciates the family’s legacy of giving and supporting women’s education.

Excerpts for this article provided by:

Malloy, L., Karpf, D., and Conrad, M. (May 23, 2024). “Who is Jan Sweet?” Haddam Killingworth Now. Retrieved from