Cover photo for Kathe Yoss's Obituary
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1929 Kathe 2024

Kathe Yoss

May 27, 1929 — March 23, 2024

Kathe A. Yoss, 94, died peacefully on March 23, 2024, at Charter House in Rochester, MN. A memorial service will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Rochester over Memorial Day weekend (date and time are pending).

Kathe was born on May 27th, 1929, to Leah and Leon Dembo in Cleveland, OH. Having acted throughout her youth in school productions and with the Cleveland Children's Playhouse, she majored in Theatre and Speech at Northwestern University, where she graduated with distinction in 1951. It was here she met and married Thomas K. Allan. During her first marriage, she taught 4th and 6th grade, had two daughters, and started graduate work in Speech Pathology. Tom and Kathe divorced while Kathe was finishing her Ph.D. at Florida State University. She relocated to Rochester, MN in 1971 for a 3 year clinical research fellowship in Speech Pathology at the Mayo Clinic, where she met Dr. Robert E. Yoss during the Neurology Service hospital rounds. Kathe and Bob married in the spring of 1972, and Kathe continued working as a research fellow at Mayo before becoming the Coordinator of Clinical Speech and Language Services in Special Education for the Rochester school district in 1973. Kathe and Bob soon purchased "The Farm" in Zumbro Falls where they spent many weekend hours gardening and planning their eventual retirement home.

Kathe was a pillar of service and mentorship in both the Rochester schools and in the speech pathology and disabilities research communities more broadly. She was active in and eventually elected president (1980-83) of the Minnesota Speech and Hearing Association and was named a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association in 1985. Kathe also received the Community Service Award from Southeast Minnesota ARC in 1991 as well as the Spirit of Minnesota Speech and Hearing Association Award in 2011.

Kathe's kindness and compassion extended far beyond the boundaries of her professional work, where she spent much of her time teaching and advocating for children with disabilities. She was also an active member at First Unitarian-Universalist Church. For years, she and Bob donated truckloads of produce from their huge garden at the farm to Channel One Food Shelf. Kathe retired from her position as supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education Services in 1991 and spent much of the last three decades enjoying her grandchildren, gardening, reading, caring for her husband, and bringing joy (and tomatoes or flowers from the farm) to those who crossed her path. She served on boards, wrote grants, chaired outreach initiatives, and volunteered with her church, ARC, Rochester Public Schools and Rochester Congregations Concerned for Children.

She is survived by her two daughters, Deborah Allan (Larry Wackett) of Saint Paul and Jean Allan of Minneapolis, as well as her three step-children, four grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and one step-great grandchild. She is preceded in death by her husband, Bob, and her step-grandson, Lewis Cook III. The family expresses their gratitude and appreciation to the wonderful staff and residents at Charter House, where Kathe resided for the last 25 years. To everyone who knew and loved Kathe, we ask you to raise a glass of sherry or turn on an old Turner Classic movie and carry forth her kindness and willingness to help those most in need.

Kathe's favorite poem, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver, ends by asking "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Kathe certainly made the most of hers.

The memorial service will be Saturday, May 25, 2024 at 2 pm. It will be held at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1727 Walden Ln SW, Rochester, MN 55902
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kathe Yoss, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

First Unitarian Universalist Church

1727 Walden Ln SW, Rochester, MN 55902

First Unitarian Universalist Church
1727 Walden Ln SW, Rochester, MN 55902

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