Catherine Elsie Castner ‘Cass’ English

Published 10:14 am Friday, February 15, 2019

Mrs. Catherine Elsie Castner “Cass” English, 65, of Cooleemee, died on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 in the comfort and care of her husband of 44 years, Mark, son, Alan, and niece, Ann Wallace.

She was born July 14, 1953, in Brookville, Pa. to the late George Sylvester and Helen Sushereba Castner. She spent her childhood in Corsica, Pa. and graduated salutatorian of her class in 1971 from East Forest High School in Marienville, Pa. She graduated from Edinboro University in 1974  with a degree in education and certification as a speech and hearing pathologist.

The couple were married on Sept. 28, 1974, in Brookville, Pa. While visiting her parents in Cooleemee for Christmas, she was paralyzed on Dec. 26, 1975 with a spinal hemangioma.  After a lengthy hospitalization, she and Mark settled in North Carolina close to family and her doctors. She did not let her paralysis stop her from doing anything she desired.  The drive that she brought to working around her disability is a model of courage and strength.  In 1983, she purchased a retail clothing business, which moved and grew into the formal wear business, now English’s Bridal and Formalwear, which she and Mark operated together. Since 1991, they have served thousands of couples preparing for their weddings from their store in Clemmons, where she handled most of the business operations.

Over the years, she served her community as a member of PTA boards, as secretary of the Davie County Arts Council, and by donating her time and merchandise to local non-profits. She was recognized in 1989, 1990, and 1992 by North Carolina’s then Gov. Jim Marti, for her volunteer commitments. She enjoyed the arts, listening to music and playing piano and saxophone in her younger years.  She was a lover of great food and company, and could always be found in the kitchen, giving directions to Mark or Alan preparing meals for family and friends. She also authored two family cookbooks to preserve recipes passed down through the generations. On weekends you could find her outside in the yard, enjoying the sun and chatting with neighbors, and she relished the time she was able to spend with her family. She was always the organizer of high school and family reunions.

Survivors: her husband, Mark English of the home; a son, Alan English and daughter-in-law, Gretchen Unfried-English of Hartford, Conn.; brother, Robert Castner and sister-in-law Laling of Virginia Beach, Va.; sister, Judy Wallace and brother-in-law Buck of Redclyffe, Pa.; brother, James Castner and sister-in-law, Bobby Jean of Vowinckel, Pa.;  6 aunts and uncles; 12 nieces and nephews; many great-nieces and great-nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbors; 2 grandsons, Everett (3) and George (9 months) of Hartford, Conn., who she delighted in watching grow.

A celebration of life will be conducted at 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21 at The Granary at WinMock Farm in Bermuda Run. Burial will be held the weekend of May 25 in Jefferson County, Pa. where she will be laid to rest at Pisgah Cemetery in Corsica.

Memorials: N.C. School of Science & Mathematics Foundation (1219 Broad St., Durham, 27705; the family has established the English Family Fund for Global Experiences in her memory (