Amalie Moses Kass ’49 died peacefully at home in Belmont, Mass., on May 19. Born and raised in Baltimore, Amalie became a Bostonian starting with her Wellesley student years, engaging deeply in the community and especially with the College. As many of her fellow trustees and alumnae volunteers attested in the flood of letters the family has received, Amalie brought tremendous energy, vision, wit, and fun to decades of working to constantly improve her beloved alma mater.
Amalie raised five children while working as a high-school history teacher, gained three stepchildren in their teenage years, and subsequently a posse of daughters- and sons-in law, plus 20 grandchildren. She was an amazing, much-loved matriarch who kept the entire family close, somehow managing to make each member feel like they were her favorite (including myself, as one of the lucky daughters-in-law). After “retiring” from teaching high school, she turned to historical research, writing two medical history books and becoming a lecturer in the history of medicine at Harvard Medical School. A fixture at the august Massachusetts Historical Society for years, she became its president in 2002, the first woman and first Jew to serve in that role. Always interested in women’s issues, she also served in many capacities, including president, at the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development. Her deep passions for Boston and for children came together when she worked with the Rose Kennedy Greenway to create and fund its unique carousel, engaging children in Boston elementary schools to choose the diverse animals for the rides.
Highlights of Amalie’s long love affair with Wellesley include a multitude of roles in the Alumnae Association, culminating in a Syrena Stackpole Award in 1999 (for which she famously pirouetted across the stage in delight). As a trustee, Amalie dedicated herself to student well-being, strongly supporting Victor Kazanjian’s innovative multifaith approach to religious and spiritual life, along with need-blind admission and funding for financial aid. She was also devoted to the landscape, serving on the working group for the 1998 Campus Landscape Master Plan, and most recently devoting time and funds to the East Side Dorms to draw students outside into a landscape designed for fun and community-building. Never one to seek the spotlight, Amalie always seemed to rise to the top of any group or organization. Her genuine charm and interest in people, combined with a remarkable ability to cut to the chase and make progress on complex issues, made her a fantastic leader in many settings. She is deeply missed.
Kristina Niovi Jones is Amalie Moses Kass’s daughter-in-law and director of the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens.