Cassandra Duke, 20 years old, passed away on January 23 from complications of the flu and pneumonia. After her parents died (her mother passed away just six weeks after she was born), Cassandra was raised by her grandmother, Carolyn.
Raised in Maplewood, Cassandra went to Seth Boyden Elementary School and Maplewood Middle School. As a child, she studied dance at the Burgdorff Center and was a pee-wee cheerleader. She graduated from CHS in 2011.
Her family has held a small family service at the Chapels of Eden Funeral Home in East Orange, but are unable to complete the funeral arrangements.
HK is coordinating donations to the family. Here are two ways to donate:
- Write a check payable to: HK CARES (please write ‘Cassandra’ in the memo line). Mail to 515 Valley St. Suite 130 Maplewood NJ 07040.
- Donate at the HK Project website: Donate under HK CAREs; when prompted please write ‘Cassandra’ in the box that says "Add special instructions to the seller."
Below is a letter CHS Principal Lovie Lilly sent to the school community:
Dear Columbia High School Faculty,
We are saddened to learn of the untimely death of our alumnus, Cassandra Duke from the Class of 2011. During her years at Columbia High School, Cassandra was admired and respected by all those who knew her. CHS has extended condolences to the family during their time of need, and we have expressed our deepest sympathies through visits, cards, flowers, and telephone calls.
It has been brought to our attention that the family is in dire financial need, in order to complete the funeral arrangements for Cassandra. Through the assistance of the Parenting Center, we have reached out to the HK Community Fund whose mission includes charitable donations for those in need. Anyone who would like to assist the family in completing the funeral arrangements for Cassandra can make a financial donation through the HK Community Fund.
Contributions will be an act of kindness that will provide significant relief for the family, and are, of course, strictly voluntary.
On behalf of the administration, faculty, and students, I thank you for extending your thoughts, generosity, and support to Cassandra’s Family, and to all those of us at Columbia High School who loved her too.
Lovie Lilly, Ed.D.