She was a longtime administrator of the 14,000-strong Facebook group “Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – Our Communities,” and a member of Women Helping Women (WHW), a networking and fundraising group that originated at Our Lady of Mercy.
“Kathy’s friends were of enormous importance to her, and she always went out of her way to look for ways to make them happy,” said Karen Bass. “I remember when she told me ‘There is a group I belong to that you would like. It's called Woman Helping Woman, and I will sign you up.’ It was one of the best things to happen to me since I moved to Forest Hills.”
Semble is survived by Matthew, her husband of 27 years, son Alex, and two brothers and a sister.
“In Kathy’s last few years, she became more independent with her school reunion and a cancer foundation, and she really started to grow,” her husband said. “It continued when she met all of her friends in Forest Hills, and I never saw her happier. She had a new aspect on life.”
Semble was born on November 28, 1962, and passed away on February 5 after fighting a brave battle against cancer since August.
In the days that followed her passing, friends celebrated her life at a Shabbat service and Kiddush meal at Chabad of Forest Hills North with Rabbi Mendy Hecht, where Semble’s recovery was routinely prayed for.
“When a person gives they are truly taking for themselves and bringing blessings in their own life,” said Hecht. “That was Kathy, who was charitable and always giving, and it is a lesson for us to emulate.”
Semble was a graduate of Martin Avenue Elementary School, Wellington C. Mepham High School, and Stony Brook University, where she studied psychology.
“I’ll remember her big smile, hugs, laugh, her beautiful personality, and how she lived life to the fullest,” said WHW member Angela Berardino.
Semble was an editorial production senior coordinator at Wolters Kluwer, as well as the owner of Printastic Party Games, offering customizable do-it-yourself printable games and puzzles for a number of occasions.
WHW member Rubi Gaddi Macaulay met Semble through a Facebook group meetup dinner and learned that they were members of a local book club.
“I remember Kathy’s kindness and love for people, adventures, jazz, and dancing,” Macaulay said before reminiscing on Semble’s final days. “At the hospital I would play her favorite 80’s songs and see a smile amidst her pain. I will always remember how she held my hand tight saying goodbye.”
On Sunday, a funeral service was officiated at Sinai Chapels under Rabbi Jason Fruithandler.
“She truly was an impossible person who found the joy of everything and the love of knowledge, growth, challenge, and new things,” Fruithandler said. “She wanted to reach out with her unique gifts and make other people’s lives better.”
Semble’s friends plan to plant trees in her memory in Israel and Forest Hills.
“It is sometimes a bit awkward to sit with a group of people you have never met, but I almost instantly felt comfortable talking with Kathy,” said Denise De Maria. “Anyone who knew her will never forget her magnetic smile and her enveloping hugs.”
Former Facebook group administrator and WHW member Fadia Mohama was among those at Semble’s crowded funeral service.
“Today we got to witness what an impact she had not only in our community, but in our lives, which will never be the same without her,” she said. “Saying goodbye to Kathy is one of the hardest thing I’ve had to do, but knowing she left us knowing how much she’s loved gave me some peace.”
Eric Schreiber praised Semble’s strong sense of decency
“We need more people like her in the world,” he said. “Even though we might have different philosophies, we both shared a sense of compassion and duty to stand up for what we believe to be morally right.”
Adrienne Pie is founder of the Forest Hills Book Club, which held a fundraiser for Semble during her cancer battle.
“When Kathy gave you a hug, it was never a superficial greeting,” she said, “but a full body squeeze letting you know how truly happy she was to see you.”