OBITUARY

Phyllis Eagan Cassidy

December 29, 1947May 16, 2021
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Phyllis Eagan Cassidy, a passionate, award-winning activist for social justice through economic empowerment, passed away May 16, 2021 at the age of 73 with her loving family at her side. She was born December 29, 1947 in New Orleans, the daughter of the late Charles Joseph “CJ” Eagan, Jr. and Phyllis Derbes Eagan and sister of the late Delery Eagan Strassel. Survived by her loving wife Mathilde Freeman, her daughters Shawn Cassidy Lewis (Tim), Katherine Cassidy Hall, and her son Robert Michael Cassidy, Jr. (Danielle) and grandchildren Erin Ashley Lewis, Cody Jacob Hall, Sara Kemmer-Cassidy, Bryce Andrew Timothy Lewis, Chelsea Anne Lewis, Noelle Kemmer-Cassidy, and Savannah Kate Hall. She graduated high school in 1965 from Holy Name of Jesus Mercy Academy, where she won three consecutive women’s basketball City Championships. In 1969 she earned a B.A. in business administration and psychology from Duke University, where she was a member of the Sandals leadership honorary and co-captained the university’s first women’s basketball team. She earned a Master of Science in accounting from the University of New Orleans in 1979. She was awarded the Elijah Watt Sells Certificate of Honorable Mention and the Louisiana Society of CPA’s Award of Excellence for receiving Louisiana’s highest score on the national CPA exam in 1977. Phyllis was a visionary and pioneered new and innovative programs that helped disadvantaged entrepreneurs start and grow small businesses, the lifeblood of our New Orleans economy. She was the founder and Executive Director of the original Good Work Network (GWN), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an inclusive local economy by giving minority businesses the resources and access to markets they need to succeed. GWN provided educational programs, technical assistance, back office support, capital access assistance and market access services to minority- and women-owned businesses in the Greater New Orleans area. The organization assisted over four and half thousand entrepreneurs in the time that Phyllis was the Executive Director. Her work with GWN was vital to both economic and structural re-building after hurricane Katrina. Phyllis contributed tirelessly to the New Orleans community through community organizations that shared her passion for social justice and economic inclusion. She directed the TANF Microenterprise Development Program for Orleans and surrounding parishes, coordinated a Small Business Administration BusinessLINC grant awarded to a coalition led by NewCorp, trained economically disadvantaged individuals in financial literacy and Core Four Entrepreneurship skills through a Mercy Caritas Grant, worked with St. Thomas/Irish Channel Consortium (STICC) in implementing the St. Thomas Hope VI Community and Supportive Service Program, and collaborated with STICC and the UNO Small Business Development Center in an Entrepreneurship Training Program offered to former residents of St. Thomas under an Office of Women’s Services Grant. Her leadership and vision earned numerous awards and honors. She was awarded the Microenterprise Development Alliance of LA’s Practitioner Champion for Microenterprise (2008), the New Orleans City Business Women of the Year Honoree (2010), the Youth Leadership Council Role Model Award (2010), the Tulane Freeman School of Business Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2011), the Small Business Association’s Minority Small Business Champion (2012), the Jefferson Chamber’s Minority Business Champion (2012), the Connect Works Economic Equity Award (2016) and a Certificate of Recognition from the Office of the Mayor of New Orleans (2016). Although the Good Work Network no longer exists, Phyllis’s work and legacy live on in the many people she worked with in her 15 years with the organization. Prior to establishing Good Work Network, Phyllis was a professor of accounting at Dillard University and UNO before working for First Capital Life Insurance Company (formerly Leitz-Eagan Life Insurance Company) from 1984-1998, starting as comptroller and finishing as president. She also volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children. Though Phyllis was certainly passionate about social justice, she was equally passionate about Duke basketball. She found endless joy in grandmothering her seven grandkids in her own feet-wet, hands-dirty style. She enjoyed travels, dinners with the Eagan cousins and time spent with Mathilde, her children and grandchildren celebrating their milestones and accomplishments. Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the Irish Wake at Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home at 4747 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, Louisiana on Thursday evening, May 27, 2021 from 6:00 until 8:00 and Funeral Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, 444 Metairie Rd., Metairie, Louisiana on Friday, May 28, 2021 at 11:30 in the morning. Visitation will begin in the church at 10:30 in the morning. Interment will be private at a later date. In lieu of flowers, because the Good Work Network no longer embodies Phyllis’ vision, contributions in her memory may be made to Youth Empowerment Project, 1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, Louisiana 70113 or online at www.youthempowementproject.org

  • FAMILY

  • Charles Joseph "CJ" Eagan Jr., Father (deceased)
  • Phyllis Derbes Eagan, Mother (deceased)
  • Delery Eagan Strassel, Sister (deceased)
  • Mathilde Freeman, Spouse
  • Shawn Cassidy Lewis (Tim), Daughter
  • Katherine Cassidy Hall, Daughter
  • Robert Michael Cassidy Jr. (Danielle), Son
  • Erin Ashley Lewis, Granddaughter
  • Cody Jacob Hall, Grandson
  • Sara Kemmer-Cassidy, Granddaughter
  • Bryce Andrew Timothy Lewis, Grandson
  • Chelsea Anne Lewis, Granddaughter
  • Noelle Kemmer-Cassidy, Granddaughter
  • Savannah Kate Hall, Granddaughter

Services

  • Wake

    Thursday, May 27, 2021

  • Visitation

    Friday, May 28, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Friday, May 28, 2021

Memories

Phyllis Eagan Cassidy

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Stan Kottemann, Jr.

May 27, 2021

Phyllis was an angel from heaven. Phyllis was always kind to my family and would always answer my Dad's questions concerning accounting and taxes, and never sent a bill. She would say, "Just pay me back by helping the next nice person that you know". Phyllis lived by the Golden Rule, as Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, "Do unto others, as you would want others to do to you". God Bless Phyllis Eagan Cassidy.
Sincerely,
Stan Kottemann, Jr.

Carol Robinson Tompkins

May 26, 2021

Phyl was a great next door neighbor and friend, and I have so many memories of wonderful times growing up with her. The Sunday dinners in the Summer House with her large family of aunts, uncles, and cousins were full of laughter, jokes, games and deep love. We would play ping pong all afternoon until our hands were blistered. I beat Uncle CJ (only once) at ping pong - but never, never, never could beat Phyl. What an athlete! And what a childhood friend! In fourth grade, I was out of school for a semester because of a playground injury. Phyl came over every afternoon for four months and played Monopoly with me. When I told her she was my best friend, she said "You do know your mother is paying me to babysit, don't you?" I said she was still my best friend.
Phyl will always have a place in my heart. I already miss her. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Lynn Roberts

May 23, 2021

Shawn,
While I never met your mom, It was inspiring to read about the spirited, loving caring human she apparently was in the world we share. Mickey and I send our deepest sympathies to you and your family.
Lynn Roberts
Atlanta

April Ray

May 22, 2021

I've always felt blessed to have a friend like Kate. When I met her mom I learned why she is the amazing woman she is. Hearing Savanah and Cody tell stories of their Nanni is always a heart warmer. Nanni's intelligence, whit, and take no $%%$ attitude is the goal of the type of woman I just hope to be remembered as.
God bless and God speed to a true gem.

Sandy, Kelley and Kara Shaw

May 22, 2021

I remember when we moved from MN to Algiers in 1976. You and your family were the first neighbors we met. I loved your mom from that moment on. Her voice her laugh and her spirit were what helped us fall in love with LA. She had so much energy and was an awesome mom. I loved all the creative “kids” stuff we did together. We all are so sorry for your loss. But it appears you kids got your mom’s compassion for life. Prayers for you all. And remember she’s there in your heart anytime you need her.

Amy Guiot

May 22, 2021

Shawn
What an amazingly accomplished woman! What a lucky daughter. What a lucky mom.
Our loving thoughts are with you and your family.
Amy and Bruce Guiot

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