Shirley Kass, a Greenacres resident from 1958 to 2012, died at home in Mamaroneck on Oct. 8 at age 100.
Raised in the Bronx, she learned to make a tasty chocolate egg cream in her parents’ soda fountain/newspaper store. She sang in her high school choir, and, according to her family, she was proud to have performed with fellow soprano (later Met opera star) Regina Resnick.
Her family also said she was very close to her cousins Sidney and Stanley Kaplan on her mother’s side, and she “kvelled” when Stanley became a famous test-prep guru, after starting by tutoring schoolmates for Regents exams in the Kaplan basement.
Mrs. Kass met her husband, Dr. Walter Kass, in 1941 at an NYU night school class in psychology, where she took a seat next to a “handsome student with blue eyes” in her words, successfully attracting his attention. Married in 1942, the couple traveled together for Dr. Kass’ basic training and subsequent domestic wartime postings.
In 1945 when Dr. Kass became chief psychologist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, Mrs. Kass completed her undergraduate studies at Washburn University and began teaching elementary school. She stopped teaching when she was expecting her first child, but remained active in the community, once winning “The Most Courteous Driver” award from the Topeka Police Department, complete with news photo.
The couple returned to the Bronx in 1956 when Dr. Kass began work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and NYU Medical School. In 1958 the family moved to Scarsdale.
Mrs. Kass was known for her keen interest in the worlds of politics and opera.
She and her family were active in an interracial group promoting equal rights well before the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.
According to her family, she “treasured” her 50-year membership in the Opera Guild, attended many Met performances where she found the seat-back scrolling libretto “superfluous,” and listened to every Saturday broadcast. Into her 90s she would take her family to at least two Met Opera performances a year.
After recovering from a 2012 heart attack, Mrs. Kass moved from Scarsdale to a suite at her daughter and son-in-law’s Mamaroneck house, helped greatly by her live-in home health aide, Mary Sarfo.
Her family said Mrs. Kass was a “superb homemaker” and a woman of “wonderful cheer and support” for her family, friends and her husband of 65 years, who predeceased her in 2006.
Mrs. Kass is survived by her daughter Helen K. Rosenberg (SHS ’67), son-in-law Eric M. Rosenberg (SHS ’66), granddaughter Karen A. Rosenberg (SHS ’95), grandson Stuart M. Rosenberg (SHS ’98), Stuart's wife Halsey Varady, and their 5-year-old son Frederick Walter Rosenberg. Donations may be made to the Metropolitan Opera and the Anti-Defamation League in Mrs. Kass’ memory.