Francis Vincent Cassidy of Willow Valley Communities passed away at the age of 93 on July 22, 2021, after a lengthy illness.
Born January 4, 1928, he was the son of the late Edward Camillus Cassidy and Florine Marie (Harker) Cassidy of Newry, Blair County, Pennsylvania. He attended St. Patrick's School in Newry and graduated from Hollidaysburg High School. During summers he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the round house and other jobs before being hired after graduation as a track repair laborer, a job he described as "too much like hard work." Later he decided to attend college with his younger brother Bob. Francis received a Bachelor of Science degree from Lock Haven State College and a Master of Education degree from Penn State University.
On Christmas Eve 1954 he married Lois Fay Juhl in Detroit, MI. They had met when Francis was a teacher and school administrator in Port Allegany, PA. At the time of their marriage, Lois had been in nursing training in Michigan. They moved into a small family-owned house in Newry, where Lois reportedly insisted that indoor plumbing be added and Francis bragged that he learned enough plumbing to quickly add a bathroom. It was there that they welcomed their first son. The family soon moved to Parkesburg, where Francis was hired by the Octorara Area School District as the principal and 6th grade teacher at Parkesburg Elementary School, and later became principal of the new consolidated Octorara Elementary building. The growing family added four daughters and another son as they moved to a much-needed larger home in nearby Atglen. It was a source of pride that all six children graduated from Octorara and became college graduates. The family was active as parishioners of Our Lady of Consolation Church in Parkesburg.
Francis coached summer youth baseball at Parkesburg and enjoyed the Parkesburg Lions Club. He poked fun at anyone wearing team colors other than gold and black. Only half joking, he told everyone who asked, and many who didn't, the teams they should root for –Pittsburgh; the religion they should be –Catholic; and how they should vote –Democratic, as a former teacher and friend reminded family members at a recent visit to Francis. He and his brother, the late Robert Valentine Cassidy, of Hollidaysburg enjoyed family history as descendants of Patrick Cassidy of Newry, Ireland-- a Revolutionary War soldier and the founder of Newry, PA.
In 1967 Francis Cassidy was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to attend Sam Houston State College in Huntsville Texas, a Kennedy/Johnson administration initiative to boost education in science and math as part of the "space race." So, the entire Cassidy family of eight moved to Texas for a year of adventure. Francis was awarded his second master's degree with specialization in science education, and the family returned to Atglen.
Francis retired from Octorara after serving over 30 years. A popular administrator and teacher, his family joked about the string of retirement celebrations becoming his second career. With all the "kids" moved out by the late 1980's, Francis and Lois relocated to a smaller home in Willow Street, where Francis worked at the Willow Valley golf course pro shop for nearly 20 years. He explained that he wasn't paid much, but he got free greens fees --a huge benefit for a retiree. Francis and Lois became long-time parishioners of Historic St. Mary's in Lancaster. Later they moved into an apartment in Willow Valley Communities. Francis moved into assisted living and nursing care in his later years as he battled Alzheimer's disease.
Francis Cassidy is survived by his wife, Lois Juhl Cassidy of Willow Valley Communities, and their children, Michael Cassidy (wife Jeanne) of Maytown, Nancy McHenry (husband John) of Long Level-Wrightsville, Patricia Cassidy (husband Rob Dowling) of Lancaster, Laura Gately (husband Bill) of Landisville, Joan Schaum (husband Jeff) of Columbia, and James Cassidy of State College. He is also survived by beloved grandchildren: Patrick Cassidy, Steven McHenry, Elizabeth McHenry, Stephanie Smith, Lauren Smith, Carly Smith, Katelyn Dowling, Robert J. Dowling, William Dowling, Heather Gately, William Gately, Brian Gately, Adam Schaum, Jennifer Schaum, Maggie Cassidy, Maria Cassidy, Molly Cassidy and Michelle Cassidy....and now starting the next generation, blessed with four great-grandchildren.
His long-time school secretary recently wrote to the family that Francis was a "kind, compassionate jokester" who "cared about his teachers" and "would be there for any that needed him." She wrote that she knew so many family details because "He loved his wife and children with his whole heart" and would talk about them on a daily basis. High praise indeed.
A Funeral Mass will take place at 10:00 a.m. Friday, July 30, 2021, at Historic St. Mary's Catholic Church, 119 South Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17603. Friends and family are also invited to attend a reception celebrating Francis' life at 11:30 a.m., after the funeral mass, at the Manor at Willow Valley, 211 Willow Valley Square, Lancaster, PA 17602. Final commitment and burial will be at St Patrick's Church and Cemetery in Newry, PA 16665 at later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association or to Historic St. Mary's Church.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Wilde Funeral Home of Parkesburg. Online condolences can be posted at www.wildefuneralhome.com