Photo courtesy of Drew Martin. Thea and her partner Drew hug as they celebrate the holidays.
Millersville University student Theodora “Thea” Cassidy, 18, passed away unexpectedly on campus on Sept. 22.
Cassidy, originally from Ephrata, was a first-year student majoring in Social Studies Education. She was a member of the Honors College and a Social Advocacy Living-Learning Community resident. Growing up in Lancaster County, she was the oldest daughter of Jere and Kelly Cassidy and sister of Ella, Jeremiah, Simon, and Jude, and their dog Leo. Cassidy was a 2023 graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School, where she was an accomplished Honors student and competed on the chess and Brainbuster teams, in addition to participating in theatre.
Outside of her academic pursuits, Cassidy had a passion for anything related to medieval history and fantasy, as she was an avid fan of “Lord of the Rings” and the popular roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). In addition, she worked at the Renaissance Faire, where she met her partner of seven months, Drew Martin.
“She was my best friend. She was so kind and passionate about what she loved,” said Martin. “She especially loved painting minifigures of characters from D&D, it was something she enjoyed. She was the kindest and most amazing person I ever met.”
At Millersville, Cassidy hoped to earn her degree and become a history teacher.
“Thea had a deep love and passion for history,” said her father. “She loved telling stories to people and was incredibly empathetic. She just wanted to help others.”
The university hosted a memorial service for Cassidy on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the campus pond. Dozens of members of the Millersville community gathered, including faculty, students, and loved ones who cherished Cassidy’s time on Earth and wished to honor her. Those in attendance had the opportunity to provide kind words and share memories they had with her.
“Although many did not get the chance to know Thea, her presence is like a ripple in a pond, touching lives she knew and those she didn’t,” said Josh Belice, Assistant Director of Admissions and member of the President’s Commission on Gender & Sexual Diversity. “While we mourn the loss of a fellow Marauder, let us also celebrate the vibrant and beautiful life she lived … In remembering Thea, let us also recommit ourselves to the principles of inclusivity, respect, and love for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Thea embraced her identity with courage, and we should all draw strength from her example.”
University President Daniel Wubah commented regarding Cassidy’s passing, “It is always difficult when a student passes, but it is also critical and important for us to create an environment where situations such as this do not happen. Because inclusion is one of our EPPIIC values, we make every effort as a community to help students, looking for the warning signs and getting them the support they need.”
On October 16, Thea Cassidy’s other partner River Olmstead, a 17-year-old student at Manheim Township High School, also passed away. Those in need of support are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Center for Counseling and Human Development by calling 717-871-7821 or The Trevor Project website at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for assistance.