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Helen Kassia “Kass” Fleisher, 63, a professor of English at Illinois State University, passed away on Friday, 6 January, 2023, at her residence in Normal, IL. She was born in Wilmington, DE, on 21 October, 1959, to Norman and Jolene (Wolford) Fleisher. She married Joe Amato of Syracuse, NY, also an English professor at ISU, on 1 July, 1995. They divorced in 2013 and remained close.
Kass is survived by her father Norman, of West Chester, PA; her brother John D. “JD” (Kathy) Fleisher, of Wilmington, DE; stepsisters Helen (John) Butler, of Rehoboth Beach, DE, Lentha (Ted) Wolf, of Reinholds, PA, and Shelley (Pat) Cooper, of Pittsburgh, PA; cousin Audrey (Ansel) Wolford, of Linville, NC; aunt Lentha (Jim) Piner of Pineville, LA; nieces Ashlie and Samantha; and numerous cousins.
Kass was predeceased by her mother Jolene and by her stepmother, Gail (Varner) Fleisher.
Kass was a graduate of Dickinson College (B.A., 1981), University of North Dakota (M.A., 1989), and Binghamton University (Ph.D., 1993). Prior to pursuing her graduate degrees, she was Administrative Manager and Producer at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and while in grad school at Binghamton she became a champion country western line dancer. She was the author of five books, coeditor with Caitlin M. Alvarez of a literary collection, had published countless essays and reviews, and was coauthor with Joe of a number of award-winning screenplays.
A memorial celebration will be held later in the spring by the Department of English at ISU. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation either to YWCA Stepping Stones of McLean County or Planned Parenthood.
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