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Kathryn "Kat" Marguerite (Russo) Yager, 43, of North Fayston, VT, and Lancaster, MA, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, with her loving family at her side in her childhood home after almost eight years battling brain cancer. Kathryn leaves her husband of 16 years, Andrew H. Yager of North Fayston; her parents, Alphonse F. Russo Jr. and Jean (Blaisdell) Russo; her brother, Alphonse F. Russo III, all of Lancaster, MA; and her sister, Susan J. Russo, and husband Joseph E. Dapper of Barre, MA. Kathryn’s maternal grandparents were True Worthy J. Blaisdell Sr. of Lynn, MA, and Mexico, MO, and Cathryn M. (Hurd) Blaisdell of Lynn, MA. Paternal grandparents were Alphonse F. Russo Sr. and Cecelia M. (Ryan) Russo of Webster, MA. She also left behind her faithful dog companion “Duke” (aka "Petunia"), who she was very close to and gave her great comfort, especially during these years as she fought her terminal illness. For the last seven months, Kat resided in her parent’s home in Lancaster; the family cat “Avery” (aka "Mr. Pussycat") would nestle next to her pillow and brought her great peace.
Kathryn was raised in Lancaster, MA, attended local schools and graduated from Nashoba Regional High School, Class of 1987. After graduation, she attended Nichols College until her path took her to Burlington, VT (ski territory), with Tamar Lederman, a close friend and classmate. While residing in VT, she earned an associate’s degree in veterinary technology from Vermont Technical College in 1994 and became a certified veterinary technician (CVT). She completed her bachelor's degree in animal science at the University of Vermont in May of 1996. She worked for several years as a veterinary technologist with the Office of Animal Care Management at UVM before being promoted to business manager.
Kat was an avid learner and completed all of the certifications offered by the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) through "Registered Laboratory Animal Technologist" (RLATG). She took courses at UVM in statistics, economics and business law and also completed an MBA in June of 2005 through an online program at the University of Phoenix, while working full time and commuting from Waitsfield to Burlington every day. Kat also obtained certifications as RALAT – Registered Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician – and RLAT, Registered Laboratory Animal Technician, which basically are stepping stones to the RLATG mentioned above.
Kathryn was a member of the Vermont Association of Veterinary Technicians and was very active in the regional branch of AALAS, called the "Northern Mountain Branch." Her colleagues in Northern Mountain Branch elected her to the post of treasurer in 2000 and to the branch presidency in 2004. She loved to attend meetings of the various laboratory animal associations and had a wide circle of friends among technicians, veterinarians and vendors. She was highly respected for the depth and breadth of her knowledge within the animal care field.
Kat was an excellent gourmet chef and was co-owner with her dear late friend Desiree Yovnello of Santo Spirito Catering in Waitsfield from 1999 to 2002. She always brought the most delicious dishes to parties and potlucks and won a Taste of The Valley in Waitsfield. She also worked many years at Sugarbush and Gallagher's in Waitsfield where she developed many lasting friendships.
She was a member of the Catholic church and her deep faith in God remained strong and gave her an avenue of hope for many years. As a teenager, she played the flute in her high school band and was involved with field hockey (received the Key Chain Award at Nichols College), track, ice skating and tennis. She enjoyed several years in horsemanship, winning many ribbons and trophies in the equestrian field. Kathryn enjoyed many trips to Block Island, RI, beginning in her teens and throughout her years where she met a lifelong friend Kim "Kimmi" Lemcke. She formed many additional deep friendships that lasted a lifetime from there, as well as in Vermont. Her dear friend Krista Walter was by her side for all three brain surgeries and enjoyed many years together in Burlington, VT.
Kathryn was an outdoor enthusiast, avid skier, loved hiking and cross-country skiing with her friends, gardening, taking long walks with her husband and their dogs “Duke” and “Thatcher,” and was a passionate Miami Dolphins fan. She loved traveling and exploring new places, trips to the beach, playing computer games with her mother and golf with her father, watching movies (she was known for being able to repeat many lines from classic comedies) and weekend football games with Susan and Joe, and was always ready for an adventure. One of her most memorable life moments was when her brother Al took her to swim with the dolphins and she made a new friend "Cappy" at Discovery Cove in Florida. She was also known as a wine connoisseur and was always excited to share the news of a good find. Kat had an intense zest for life and truly made the most of every moment. She chose to continue this gift of life from death with a donation to the New England Organ Bank. When you were with Kat, you would become automatically inspired to get up and pursue your life ambitions – she wouldn't let you have it any other way, always encouraging you and pushing you to be the best you can be.
Following cremation, a funeral mass was held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at Immaculate Conception Church, 809 Main Street, Lancaster, MA. There will be no calling hours. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Philbin-Comeau Funeral Home, 176 Water Street, Clinton, MA.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in Kathryn’s memory may be made to Nashoba Nursing & Hospice Association, 2 Shaker Road, Suite D225, Shirley, MA 01464, www.nashoba.org/; Volunteer Humane Society Inc., 505 Center Bridge Road, Lancaster, MA 01523, www.vhscats.org/; Miles for Hope - Moving Towards a Cure for Brain Tumors; Susan Russo's team "A Spot for Kat," www.braintumorevents.org/boston2013/a_spot_for_kat. Online condolences may be placed at www.philbincomeaufh.com.