Obituary: Nicole (Nicky) Hahn Rafter of Boston’s North End

Nicole Rafter (Nicky), an internationally-known and much-honored writer and scholar in the fields of social history and criminology, the author of more than a dozen books (most recently The Crime of All Crimes, Toward a Criminology of Genocide), and a long-time professor at Northeastern University, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, on February 29, 2016, at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. The cause of death was septic shock.

Nicky was 76 years old and lived in Boston’s North End, where she was active in community affairs. She is survived by her husband Robert Hahn, her son Alex Hahn, her daughter Sarah Hahn, and her daughter-law Sunali Goonesekera. Interment is private. A memorial service is being planned for April and will be held at Northeastern University.

In lieu of flowers, donations in the memory of Nicole Rafter may be made to Human Rights Watch at

4 Replies to “Obituary: Nicole (Nicky) Hahn Rafter of Boston’s North End

  1. I am heartbroken to learn that this brilliant, vibrant woman has been taken from us so suddenly. Nicky was a spirited advocate, an intrepid traveler and the kindest of friends. There could not be a better way to honor her memory than to make a donation to Human Rights Watch. Let’s join together in this final “thank you” to Nicky.

  2. I’m stunned and sad that we have lost Nicky. Mary has called her a “spirited advocate” and that describes Nicky so well. Nicky was passionate about her life’s work, her teaching, and her writing. She always spoke with great conviction combined with a gentle courtesy. She amazed me. My heart goes out to Robert and the children.

  3. Human rights and justice were Nicky’s passion and purpose, in every way that I knew her, from her profession to her dedication to all of us who call the North End/Waterfront neighborhood home, and in how she lived every moment of her life. She reminds us that how we live each moment is how we live our lives. Nicky left us too soon and too suddenly, but I will take solace in holding onto her friendship; her comradery, and her great smile and laugh.

  4. I’m very surprised and saddened to hear of Nicky’s passing. Condolences to Robert and family. When I was NEWRA President, we needed a Treasurer. Despite her admitted lack of financial expertise, Nicky volunteered to take on the job. That was Nicky- however she could help, she would.

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