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Obituary of Rosalyn Hass, 85


Rosalyn Gasque Hass of Centre Hall, Pennsylvania died of natural causes in her home on Friday, September 8, 2017. She was 85 years old. The daughter of Robert Johnson and Johnsie (nee McAulay) Gasque, Rosalyn was born on March 5, 1932 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She grew up in Rockingham, North Carolina, and, as a young girl and only child, developed a loving bond with houskeeper Golda Johnson, who became her best friend and constant companion throughout childhood, fostering a lifelong sensitivity to racial tolerance. As a teenager, Rosalyn debuted in polite society in Charlotte and enjoyed many summers with her cousins and friends at Crescent Beach, South Carolina, where the family maintained a summer cottage. She attended Rockingham High School, where she wrote and acted in school plays and played basketball. She also excelled in piano and performed Rachmaninoff’s difficult Piano Concerto No. 2 for her senior recital.

After graduating from Rockingham High School in 1950, Rosalyn enrolled in Greensboro College, at the time an all-women’s college, where her paternal grandmother, Martha Nette Johnson, had graduated years earlier as valedictorian. Rosalyn enrolled in the general studies program, eventually earning the top grade among all students in science during her sophomore comprehensive exams. Sensing that her opportunities in science might be greater at a larger university, Rosalyn transferred to the University of North Carolina, where she majored in Zoology and became an active member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

After graduating from UNC in 1954 with her BA in Zoology, she earned her secondary school teaching certification at Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina and worked in the Duke University laboratory of William L. Byrne, where she met the love of her life, Louis Frederick Hass, who was at the time pursuing his Ph.D. in biochemistry. Rosalyn and Lou married in January 1960 and spent the early years of their marriage moving among Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethesda, Maryland, and Buffalo, New York while Lou pursued a variety of teaching and research opportunities. In the summer of 1968, Rosalyn and Lou, now with three children in tow, moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where Lou had landed a job as professor of biochemistry at Penn State’s newly commissioned medical school.

After moving to Hershey, Rosalyn worked for several years in the endocrinology laboratory of Dr. Eugene Samojlik conducting cancer research, but eventually devoted herself full time to her family. During her years in Hershey, Rosalyn cultivated a reputation as a very loving and devoted mother and wife, an excellent cook, and a gifted storyteller. As someone who had grown up in the “front porch” culture of the American South, Rosalyn had a knack for entertaining friends and family with stories of her childhood. Always perfectly paced and filled with just the right blend of humor and seriousness—“a splash of vinegar on the greens,” as her cousins described her method—her stories often kept her friends and family laughing for hours.

After Lou retired from the Hershey Medical Center in 1988, Rosalyn and Lou moved to the State College area in 1993, eventually building a home on five beautiful acres in Penns Valley. The last years of their lives together were particularly happy. Constant companions, Lou and Rosalyn established new friends, tended the garden and interior of their new home, biked around the region, and enjoyed the company of their grandson, Matthew, who lived in nearby Lewistown. Every summer, they visited the Lake George region of the Adirondacks, whose hiking trails and beautiful scenery inspired and confirmed their deep love of nature. As two scientists who firmly believed in the facts of their discipline and clearly understood the ever increasing threats to the natural world, Lou and Rosalyn became staunch environmental activists, and, side by side, devoted themselves to a wide variety of local and national environmental causes with the idea that they had an obligation to leave the world a better place than when they had entered it.

In her later years, Rosalyn, a deeply spiritual woman, became increasingly active in Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church, where she established some of the most important and loving friendships of her life. Those who knew Rosalyn marveled at her capacity for kindness, which she extended to everyone, no matter their age, creed, class, or ethnicity. She firmly believed in the dignity and preciousness of all people, continually fought to uphold the principles of social justice, and conducted her life with impeccable grace, humor, perseverance, and integrity. The gift of her presence transformed the lives of the people she encountered and provided them with a model on how to live a good life filled with meaning and purpose.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Louis Frederick Hass and is survived by her son, Stephen Frederick Hass, Aaronsburg, PA resident and Northeast Regional manager of American Athletics Inc.; her son, Robert Bernard Hass, Professor of English at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA; her daughter, Emily Elizabeth Hass, Interventional Cardiologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO; her son-in-law, Hermen Daalder, an IT Specialist for IBM Corporation in Fort Collins, CO; and her grandson, Matthew Joseph Hass, a junior double majoring in English and Economics at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA.

A memorial service and mass in celebration of Rosalyn’s life will take place Friday, September 15 at Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church. A reception for friends and family members will begin at 9 AM, with the mass and a luncheon immediately following. In lieu of gifts or flowers, memorial contributions should be sent to the Penns Valley Conservation Association, P.O. Box 165, Aaronsburg, PA 16820 or to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church, PA-45, Spring Mills, PA 16875. An online guest book can be signed or condolences sent to the family at

Name of Deceased

Rosalyn Hass



Date of Death


Date of Birth


Funeral Home

Mark D. Heintzelman Funeral & Cremation Services

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