Barbara Cass, a longtime Ladera resident who had a second career as executive director of software industry groups, died at her home July 8 of pancreatic cancer.
Her volunteer work at the Resource Center for Women in Palo Alto, where she counseled women re-entering the job market, sparked her interest in the fledgling computer industry. She eventually became an executive in several nonprofit associations in that industry, said Tom Cass, her husband.
Ms. Cass helped form Software Entrepreneur's Forum (SEF), where software engineers and entrepreneurs exchanged ideas during monthly dinners. She became executive director of the forum in 1984 and started inviting industry luminaries to speak. She was named to the "MicroTimes 100" several times in the 1990s.
In 1998, SEF and the city of San Jose's Center of Software Development joined forces and became SDForum, a merger that was one of the proudest moments of her career, she had said. That same year, she helped create the prestigious annual Visionary Awards, which recognize the successes of luminaries in the technology field.
SDForum grew from a handful of developers passionate about software to the oldest and largest association of professionals in emerging technologies in the area, with more than 2,000 members and 45 organizational sponsors, said Susan Lucas-Conwell, the forum's current CEO.
Ms. Cass retired last December as a result of her illness.
Born in San Francisco, Ms. Cass graduated from Lowell High School at age 16 and graduated from the University of California.
She married Tom Cass, whom she met while at Berkeley, a month after graduation. They lived in Washington, D.C., while her husband was in the U.S. Navy, then returned to Berkeley, and later lived in Paris while Mr. Cass completed postdoctoral studies.
Ms. Cass, a nursery school teacher during the early years of her marriage, later stayed at home to raise her young children. When the family relocated to California in 1970, she was guided to Ladera by her aunt Fanita Stendell, then secretary of Ladera School.
Ms. Cass became active as a parent volunteer at Ladera School. When her children were older, she began volunteering at the Resource Center for Women/Career Action Center in Palo Alto.
Her husband said her skills as a homemaker carried over into her professional life. She had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome, he said, and as a hostess, she was always ready to accommodate one more.
Ms. Cass is survived by her husband of 49 years, Tom Cass; her mother, Norma Stendell of San Jose; a son, Peter Cass of Menlo Park; a daughter, Carin Zimmerman of San Francisco; and three granddaughters.
According to her wishes, no services were held.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Oncology Department, attention Philanthropy, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.