John Sr's Eulogy

Eulogy of Dorothy Cassell

Written March 9, 2003

We are gathered here today to celebrate the Life of Dorothy Cassell. Those attending these services also know her as Mom, Mother, Dot, Mammaw, Mummer, Grandma Dot and the various names that her 7 Children, 14 Grandchildren, her 9 Great Grand children and the various spouses call her.

My name is John Rasnic, husband of Nancy Cassell, Dorothy’s 3rd Daughter, and I was asked by Dot’s Sons and Daughters to present the eulogy for their Mother.

Dot was born in Lebanon County, one of two Daughters of Pastor Harry Schaffer and his wife, Violet. Her Mother died when she was 15.

Dot married Harry Cassell, or as some people now refer to the pronunciation as Ka-Sell. We asked Dot what she thought of the change in pronunciation, and she answered what most of us remember as typical of her personality, “Whatever”!

Shortly after marrying Harry, she settled down to married life at 315 S 29th street in Penbrook. 3 beautiful daughters then 4 handsome sons were born there.

In the mid 1950s Dot and Harry started the very successful Cassell’s Catering Service to help pay for the increasing costs of raising 7 kids. They ran the business out of the basement of 315 for about 8 years catering many weddings (which were her specialty), and large picnics for various organizations. They also ran the concession stands at the Pennbrook Poll, the Lawnton Pool, and the Bethlehem Dinner Club.

Harry died in 1968, leaving Dorothy a widow at age 48.

With 2 children still in high school, she moved to an apartment in a house in Colonial Park. Her son Butch’s family lived in one of the apartments. After Butch’s family left, Nancy, I, and our 2 sons moved into one of the apartments. To Dot’s credit, the two boys remaining at home were able to successfully complete their college programs. As Dot did her whole life, she sacrificed her own comfort so that her children could have a better life. This is the true measure of a widowed Mom, making sure that her children would have the opportunity to better themselves.

To end her illustrious career, she moved to Carlisle to help her son Barry and his wife Annette when they bought and operated a restaurant in Carlisle.

Nancy and I were fortunate enough to have Dot spend the winters in Orlando with us for the past 15 years. She made many friends in Orlando, with Emogene and Larry Scott, and Maureen Edwards being the most well known. Dot was so loved by the friends that she made in Orlando, that the late Larry Scott went out of his way on his trip to Philadelphia to surprise Dot on her 80th birthday by taking her to breakfast and presenting her with her first set of monogrammed towels, and to be the photographer at the 80th birthday family picture.

Dot would take trips with us to California, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas. For the last 5-6 years, we would take her to Cypress Gardens almost every weekend in the winter. Her favorite things to see there were the “Big Bands” of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and the like.

But her most enjoyable times seemed to be just sitting on our patio during the day and watching the lake, the birds that lined the shore, and going out to dinner on weekends with Nancy and me and the friends she met in Orlando.

As we reflect about what made Dot so special to so many people, a few things stand out.

1. When her children and their spouses would have arguments, as married people always do, she would never take sides. She would listen but not take sides. It was enough to have her just listen.

2. She was totally unselfish. When some of her children would give her money to help make her life a little more comfortable, she would turn around and give some of the money to her children her were having some challenges.

3. Her Love of Life! Our friend Byron Kline asked Dot where she would like to go to dinner for her 80th birthday. He said he would take her anywhere she wanted to go in Orlando for Dinner. She replied that she would like to go to the Rainforest café, which is a loud restaurant at Disney World that has animated elephants bellowing, monkeys chattering, and a volcano that goes off on top of the restaurant every 30 minutes. Byron remarked that he wished when he was 80 that his favorite restaurant would be a fun place like the Rainforest Café.

4. She was not like the typical Mother-in-Law or the ones portrayed in the jokes. She did not try to impose her will on you, was very flexible in the requests she would make, and was totally non-judgmental, no matter how many stupid decisions her sons-in-laws and daughters-in-law made that affected her precious daughters and sons. There will be a tremendously large void left in our life by not having Dot to share our winters with.

All she wanted from life was for her children to be happy, then later for her grandchildren and great grandchildren to also be happy.

So if you want to honor Dot and her memory, be strong and happy with your life. And remember that in some small ways and in some big ways, Dorothy Cassell was responsible for your happiness.

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