Katrina Neff, administrative assistant in the Department of Classics, died Nov. 30 at her home in Lansing. She was 57.
“Katrina quickly established herself as the heart and soul of the classics department,” said Hayden Pelliccia, professor of classics, who hired Neff while he was serving as chair of the department. “Like a good classicist, Katrina combined a robust and shrewd pessimism about human nature with a cheerful interest in all its varieties and an unbounded affection for familiar specimens. She regarded the department as her family and the department regarded her as theirs.”
“She was my right hand and a dear friend to all,” said Miriam Zubal, administrative manager for classics. “Katrina was so incredibly hard working and dependable and would just do anything for you.”
Initially hired at Cornell as a temp, Neff became a permanent employee of the classics department in 2004. Her first role was as undergraduate coordinator; she went on to become graduate coordinator and chair’s assistant. In these positions Neff had extensive contact with students and was devoted to their well-being and happiness, said Pelliccia.
Noting the enormous loss to classics, current department chair Sturt Manning said that in recognition of Neff’s devotion and key role in the lives of a generation of faculty and students, the department hopes to establish a fund for student support in her name.
Prior to joining the classics department, Neff worked for Cornell Life & Safety; positions she held outside of Cornell included precision aerospace machinist and court transcriber. Outside of work, Neff enjoyed bowling and was a dedicated member of Ithaca Elk's Lodge # 636.
Neff is survived by her husband, Pat; her son Jeremy and step-son Jimmy; a granddaughter, Theresa; her parents; a brother and sister; and a large extended family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Ithaca Elk's Lodge #636, 124 Coddington Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850.