3 women on Katz plane were active in nonprofits, social causes

Susan K. Asbell
Susan K. Asbell
Posted: June 03, 2014

AT LEAST THREE of the six victims who died with Daily News co-owner Lewis Katz in a private-jet explosion at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., had local roots and, like Katz, long affiliations with education, nonprofits and social causes.

The identities of the pilots and a third crew member had not been released as of last night.

Confirmed to have died along with Katz are:

* Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, of Haddonfield, N.J.

Dalsey, a mother of four, was executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation and president of the KATZ Academy Charter School in Camden, which she helped open in 2012.

According to a biography on the foundation's website, she began a career in real-estate investment at age 20 and eventually became active in dozens of nonprofits in South Jersey and Philadelphia. She opened Gracie's Ice Cream Parlor in Haddonfield in 1995.

"She was a dynamo," said Helene Pierson, former executive director of Heart of Camden.

* Susan K. Asbell, 68, of Cherry Hill and Margate, N.J.

Asbell, a mother of two, was president-elect of the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County and a member of its planning committee. She was married to former Camden County prosecutor Samuel Asbell.

Bernadette Shanahan, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said Katz and Asbell were friends since childhood.

"When founding the board, Lewis asked his childhood friend Susan Asbell to serve on the board and she did so for over 15 years," Shanahan said. "Susan was passionate about the club and the children in her hometown of Camden. There are simply no words to describe the depth of our sorrow and loss."

* Anne Brennan Leeds, 74, of Margate.

Leeds, who was married to Longport commissioner James P. Leeds Sr., worked as a preschool teacher for 25 years at St. David's Nursery School in Wayne. She and her husband were both friends and neighbors of Katz, by the ocean on 36th Avenue.

According to the Inquirer, Leeds was a trustee of the Trinity parish council in Margate. Her son, Ted Leeds, told the Press of Atlantic City that his mother often took trips with Katz and that this one was on a whim.

James P. Leeds Sr. told the Atlantic City paper that his wife had sent him a text message about 4 minutes before the jet was scheduled to take off. The paper did not report what the message said.

"My wife was very, very active in things," Leeds told the paper yesterday morning.

On Twitter: @JasonNark

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