Francis Vincent Cassidy, 93, of Lancaster, Pa., Died on July 22, 2021 after a long illness. Son of the late Edward Camillus Cassidy and Florine Marie (Harker) Cassidy of Newry.
He attended St. Patrick’s School in Newry and graduated from Hollidaysburg High School. During the summers he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the Round House and other jobs before being hired after graduation as a track repair worker, a job he described as “Too much like hard work. “ He later decided to go to college with his younger brother, Bob. Francis received a Bachelor of Science from Lock Haven State College and a Masters of Education from Penn State University.
On Christmas Eve 1954, he married Lois Fay Juhl in Detroit, Michigan. They met while Francis was a teacher and school administrator in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania. At the time of their marriage, Lois was in nursing training in Michigan. They moved into a small family home in Newry, where Lois reportedly insisted interior plumbing be added and Francis bragged about learning enough plumbing to quickly add a bathroom. It was there that they welcomed their first son.
The family soon moved to Parkesburg, Pa., Where Francis was hired by the Octorara area school district as principal and grade 6 teacher at Parkesburg Elementary School, then became principal of the new building. Consolidated from Octorara Elementary School. The growing family added four daughters and another son as they moved to a larger and much needed house in nearby Atglen. It was a source of pride that all six children graduated from Octorara and became university graduates.
Francis coached summer youth baseball in Parkesburg and enjoyed the Parkesburg Lions Club. He made fun of anyone wearing team colors other than gold and black. As friends and teachers remembered, Francis, half-jokingly 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. He and his brother, the late Robert Valentine Cassidy, of Hollidaysburg, had a family history as descendants of Patrick Cassidy of Newry, Ireland, a soldier in the Revolutionary War and the founder of Newry, Pennsylvania.
In 1967, Francis Cassidy received a National Science Foundation Fellowship to attend Sam Houston State College in Huntsville, Texas, an initiative by the Kennedy / Johnson administration to boost science and math education as part of of the “space race.” So the entire Cassidy family of eight moved to Texas for a year of adventure. Francis received his second master’s degree with specialization in science education, and the family returned to Atglen.
Francis retired from Octorara after serving more than 30 years. A popular administrator and teacher, his family joked that the series of retirement celebrations became his second career. With all the “kids” Moving in the late 1980s, Francis and Lois moved to a smaller house in Willow Street, Pa., where Francis worked at the Willow Valley Golf Course Professional Store for almost 20 years. He explained that he wasn’t paid much, but had free green fees, a huge plus for a retiree.
Francis and Lois became longtime parishioners of the historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lancaster City. They later moved into an apartment in Willow Valley Communities. Francis moved to assisted living and nursing in his later years while battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Francis Cassidy is survived by his wife, Lois Juhl Cassidy of Willow Valley Communities; and their children: Michael Cassidy (Jeanne) of Maytown, Nancy McHenry (John) of Long Level-Wrightsville, Patricia Cassidy (Rob Dowling) of Lancaster, Laura Gately (Bill) of Landisville, Joan Schaum (Jeff) of Columbia and James Cassidy of the State College. He is also survived by 18 beloved grandchildren; and now the next generation, four great-grandchildren.
Her longtime school secretary recently wrote to the family that Francis was a “Pretty compassionate joker” who “cared about his teachers” and “would be there for anyone who needed him.” She wrote that she knew so many family details because, “He loved his wife and children with all his heart” and talked about it daily. It really is praise.
A Christian burial mass was held on July 30, 2021 in St. Mary’s, Lancaster, followed by a reception at Willow Valley Communities. Final incarceration and interment will take place at St. Patrick’s Church and “New” Newry Cemetery for family convenience, including Blair County relatives.