Alan Cassell passed away peacefully on March 21 at the Respite House after a brave battle with cancer, at the age of 84. He was surrounded by his loving family.
Alan was born in Quarryville, Pa. on June 11, 1934, to Edythe and Frank Cassell. He grew up with his younger sister Judi in a farmhouse surrounded by rolling hills and cornfields in an area affectionately known as Unicorn.
Alan started his higher education at Penn State University. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in civil engineering from MIT and ultimately received his PhD from the University of North Carolina in 1964.
During this time, he met Helen Mafilios, the love of his life and best friend, while working in Albany, N.Y. They were married in 1961.
They moved to Potsdam, N.Y. where Alan worked as a professor of civil engineering at Clarkson University for 10 years. In 1974, Alan took a position at the University of Vermont as a tenured professor of civil engineering and natural resources. In addition to his teaching and research duties, he served as Director of the Water Resources Research Center and authored and co-authored numerous publications in the field of water quality. The focus of his scientific research was aimed at the conservation of natural resources and watershed management. Alan absolutely loved teaching. His mentoring and guidance created countless student relationships, many students remaining in contact with him throughout his life. He retired from UVM in 2001.
The most important part of Alan’s life has always been his wife Helen of 58 years and his family. He was absolutely adored by his children and grandchildren, who know him as a gentle and patient man, a humble listener, always full of encouragement and enthusiasm. His keen intellect and never-failing ability to present a different point of view generated many passionate, yet loving dinner conversations that always lasted well into the evening.
He is survived by his beloved wife Helen; his daughter Lisa and her husband Steve; his daughter
Edy; his son Stephen and his wife Kris; his sister Judi; and his five grandchildren, Nicolas, Olivia, Kate, Jack and Kyra.
He especially loved spending time with his grandchildren, whether it was harvesting veggies in his beautiful garden, sharing special woodworking projects, or building a “living machine.” His zest for life and learning was always shared with each of them.
Al has been described as the “very best of friends and the kindest of souls.” He will be dearly missed by his family and many friends.
A celebration of Alan’s life will be held at the Shelburne United Methodist Church in Shelburne on Saturday, May 18 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Respite House or UVM Network Home Health and Hospice.