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Cynthia Ruth Cassel Phillips, age 79, passed away peacefully at Reading Hospital on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, after a brief and unexpected illness. She was born to the late Albert and Barbara Becker Cassel on March 11, 1944 in Syracuse, NY. She graduated from Syracuse’s Nottingham High School in 1962, having been in “activities galore,” so reads her yearbook caption. She earned her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. At Penn she was a member and officer of Kappa Delta Sorority, active in the Panhellenic Council, and elected president of the Fraternity Parliament. Dear friendships from her Syracuse youth and life at Penn were treasured throughout her life.
Cynthia lived her life with love and purpose. She was committed to make the world around her better with every opportunity she was given. After graduating from Penn, she put her education to work in a successful career that would span 42 years. Beginning at Philadelphia’s John Wanamaker Stores, she rose to become the Director of Corporate Training and Development, before moving to Reading where she led Corporate Training at Boscov’s Department Stores for more than 2 decades. During her professional career, she was active in the American Society for Training and Development, becoming Treasurer and then President of the local chapter, Reading Area Trainers’ Organization. She was proud of every training group she launched and watched succeed. She had a gift for lifting others up and motivating them forward.
Cynthia lived as an active member of the Reading community for over 30 years. She especially loved music and people. For years she volunteered as an officer and member of the Board of Directors of the Reading Symphony Orchestra, as well as serving as President of the Reading Symphony Orchestra League. As the Orchestra’s fashion show committee chairwoman, she took great pleasure organizing the event and luncheon. She also served as a Board member of the Berks Youth Chorus Heritage Benefit Fund. For the past 8 years, she enjoyed new friendships, events, and activities at the Heritage of Green Hills where she served on the Board and committees and was elected President of the residents’ association. As a devote Episcopalian, Cynthia found strength, guidance, and comfort in her faith. She was a faithful member of Christ Church in Reading, serving on its Ministries and Vestry. Cynthia served faithfully and selflessly to help every organization she was a part of grow and thrive.
Cynthia loved animals, but very specifically her cats. She had many cats over the years, whom she loved dearly. She also loved spending summer days at the family cottage at Lake Bluff, NY, where she especially enjoyed happy hours looking out over Lake Ontario and relaxing with family, cousins, and other life-long summer friends.
Known to family and friends as “Cyncy,” she had a quiet and attentive presence. She leaned in to listen well, sat for hours to enjoy relationships with those she loved, and often offered valuable insight. Cyncy never missed a birthday, anniversary, or important life event. Her greatest love was her family. She and her brother, Tom, shared a life-long bond, likewise embracing her sister-in-law, Chris. She treated her nephews (Joe, Brad, and Tommy) like they were her own children. She delighted in correcting poor table manners and incorrect grammar, and always remembered every important date in their lives. She was a constant cheerleader for them, as well as for her niece-in-laws, and grand nieces and nephews. She would share family history and made sure they knew of their ancestors and where they came from. She loved her family, and her family loved her, deeply. She will be missed immensely, but she leaves a wealth of heartfelt memories from the wonderful life she lived. For her life, her family and friends are thankful.
She is survived by her brother Thomas Cassel (Christine) of Moorestown, NJ; her nephews Joseph Cassel (Jennifer) of Albany, NY, Bradley Cassel (Alexandra) of Riverton, NJ, and Thomas Cassel (Victoria) of Westfield, NJ; her six grand nieces and nephews; and her beloved cat, Walker. She is predeceased by her parents, Albert and Barbara Cassel.
Viewing will be at Klee Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., One East Lancaster Ave., Shillington, on Thursday, October 12, 2023 from 6:00-8:00 PM. Visitation will also be at Christ Episcopal Church, 435 Court St., Reading, on Friday, October 13, 2023 from 1:00-2:00 PM preceding the funeral service to celebrate her life at 2:00 PM. The Reverend Bryce Wandrey will officiate. A reception will be held immediately following the service in the church fellowship hall. Her funeral will be livestreamed at www.kleefuneralhome.com at the Cynthia C. Phillips obituary link. Interment will be at Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, NY on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 12:30 PM.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, 58 Kennel Road, Birdsboro, PA 19508, www.berksarl.org or the Reading Symphony Orchestra, 100 N. Fifth Street, Reading, PA 19601, www.readingsymphony.org.