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Katherine "Kass" Spurrier

March 21, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Katherine "Kass" Spurrier, who died March 12 at the age of 80. Her obituary was published in the March 13 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Lynne Kirby has so many rich and warm memories of her mother -- Katherine "Kass" Spurrier -- she said it was hard to focus in on just a few.

"I could always go to mom for anything and she was there for me," Lynne said.

When it came to holidays, Kass had a way of making everything special for her family and friends.

"She made the holidays jump right off the calendar page," Lynne said.

Born in Baltimore in 1928, Kass grew up a street away from Ed Spurrier, three years her senior, but a friend from the neighborhood.

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When Ed was 18, he was called to the U.S. Army as World War II broke out. For three years, Ed and Kass were long-distance sweethearts, writing to each other between Baltimore and a series of European battlefields

They got engaged when Ed came home and were married in September 1947.

"All those years, they made it work," Lynne said. "Dad was true blue."

The couple's only child for nine years, Lynne said the family lived in Catonsville, Md., while Ed worked for the C&P Telephone Co.

Two sons -- Steve and Tim -- were born while the family still was in the Baltimore area. The family moved to Cumberland, Md., in 1964, then to Hagerstown in 1967 or 1968 as C&P transferred Ed around.

Though it was Ed who worked for the telephone company, Kass had her own personal networking skills that were legendary -- abilities she honed while working for the United Way of Washington County for many years.

"Mom was a master of communication," Tim said by e-mail from Texas. He described his mother's address/telephone book as so full that a rubber band was needed to hold it together.

"That book was more than a book," Tim said. "It was a road map of her life."

Lynne's husband, Terry, said Kass knew where to find anything or anybody as long as she had that address book.

"She'd say it was her sworn duty to keep up the company stock," Terry said.

For 46 years, Terry was part of the Spurrier family through his marriage to Lynne. He described Ed and Kass' relationship as cute and loving right up to the end, when Ed passed away three years ago.

"Kass made the man," Terry said of Ed. "He was so shy and she brought him out."

Steve credited his mother and father with giving him and his siblings the "tools of life."

"We learned how to assess a situation and bring it to resolution, always doing what we do with a cheerful heart and to the best of our ability," Steve said.

Most of all, those gifts are a legacy to pass on to their own children, Steve said.

Those grandchildren called Kass "grandma" or "grammy," while the great-grandchildren knew her simply as "GG."

Grandson Brian Kirby spoke at the memorial service about how he always will remember spending time with his grandparents in Ocean City, Md., where they spent six weeks every summer.

Other grandchildren mentioned Kass' celebrated roast beef and the corn on the cob she froze for year-round good eating.

"She filled my life with joy and laughter," granddaughter Kandyce Dorsey said by e-mail. "Her creative drive will continue to inspire me for decades to come."

Granddaughter Laura Spurrier recalled trips to Juvenile Sales for a new Barbie doll and McDonald's for a Happy Meal, as well as going to a Disney movie with her grandmother.

"Grammy was the grandmother that every child deserves," Laura said.

Carla Kann counted Kass as a friend since they both worked together at the United Way in the early 1970s.

Looking back over that friendship, Carla smiled as she remembered a joke her friend kept to herself over the years -- a joke about her famous homemade bread.

"It was always wrapped in tissue and included a bow as though she was bestowing us with a great culinary gift," Carla said.

After every dinner, Carla's husband would remind her to get the recipe. But each time, Kass conveniently forgot to give Carla those instructions.

At the viewing a week ago, Carla said she learned from Lynne that bread was made by Pillsbury and came out of a tube.

"Somehow, I know she's in a better place, laughing about how she pulled one over on us," Carla said.

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