Patricia R. Amass, a retired Carroll County educator and volunteer who focused her efforts on those living in Third World countries, died Monday of abdominal cancer at Carroll Hospice's Dove House in Westminster. She was 78.
"Pat defined the statement of what a professional colleague and a dedicated teacher is. We need more educators in this world who had her sort of dedication," said Francis "Skip" Fennell, professor of education at McDaniel College and a friend of nearly 40 years.
"She cared deeply about two things: kids and making sure she kept that spark lit in terms of learning," said Dr. Fennell. "And whatever route she took always worked."
Patricia Richter was born in Baltimore and later moved to Manchester. She was the daughter of educators: her father, Gerald E. Richter was principal of Carroll County's old Manchester School, and her mother, Marjorie McWilliams Richter, was an elementary school teacher.
When her father was appointed principal of Westminster High School in 1944, she and her family settled in Westminster.
After graduating from Westminster High in 1953, she attended what was then Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. In 1957, she graduated summa cum laude with honors with a bachelor's degree in history.
She remained at Western Maryland, where she earned a master's degree in education, and took further graduate courses at Hood College in Frederick.
For a period of time, Mrs. Amass was an adjunct professor of education in Western Maryland's department of education.
Mrs. Amass began her professional career in 1957 when she joined the faculty of East End Elementary School in Westminster, teaching third-graders. In 1970, she was named supervisor of early childhood educational programs for Carroll County, where she oversaw such programs as Head Start and Title I.
"She was the kind of person who never stopped growing. She was quiet but did not hesitate to ask questions," recalled Dr. Fennell. "She was reflective in her thinking and thought about things pretty hard before she asked a question. Being impulsive would not define who Pat Amass was."
She retired in 1987.
Mrs. Amass was active in numerous community activities. When she was president of the Junior Women's Club of Westminster, she coordinated an after-school program that taught foreign languages to elementary school pupils.
When she joined the Women's Club of Westminster, she was an active participant in its used-book program. The money that the club raised was used to purchase Dr. Seuss books that were distributed to county elementary schools.
Mrs. Amass was a charter member in 1994 of the Bonds Meadow Rotary Club and served as its first female president.
The club awarded her three Paul Harris Awards, one for her founding and service to the club, a second for community activities of the club, and the final one for international service to Rotary.
Janet Flora, a friend of 15 years, got to know Mrs. Amass through their joint work with Rotary.
Mrs. Flora described her friend as having a "generous smile and twinkling eyes."
"If you gave Pat a project, you could forget about it because you knew it would be done well, and when she asked you to do something, you could never say no," she said.
Mrs. Amass was vitally interested in those living in Third World countries and played a pivotal role in a program that sought to eradicate river blindness in Tanzania, Africa.
While working closely with International Medical Assistance in New Windsor, Mrs. Amass also conceived and organized a program of Safe Motherhood Kits, which are distributed to women in Third World countries to allow them to have sterile and safe births.
She was a longtime parishioner of Westminster United Methodist Church and was an active member of United Methodist Women, where she was the district delegate promoting Safe Motherhood Kits. She also led the effort of members who knitted baby blankets and knit caps included in the kit.
"This became a very successful global project," said the Rev. David A. Highfield, pastor of her church from 1992 until retiring in 2007.
In addition, Mrs. Amass also conducted a weekly Bible study group at her church.
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"Pat had a heart for community service and would go out of her way to help someone else. She was soft-spoken, yet she had a certain intensity, and when she got involved in a project, you knew it would go well," said Dr. Highfield.
"One of the most recent times I worshipped at the church, Pat was preaching. She was a lay preacher, which requires training and certification," he said.
"Community service was Pat's biggest thing. She wanted to help people in need," said her husband of 57 years, Dr. Arnold "Skip" Amass, a pharmacist who had owned the Finksburg Pharmacy and the Taneytown Pharmacy.
In 2009, the Community Foundation of Carroll County named both Mrs. Amass and her husband Philanthropists of the Year.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at her church, 165 E. Main St., Westminster.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Amass is survived by a son, Gerald A. Amass of Westminster; and a grandson. Another son, John "Jack" Amass, died in 2001.