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Kathy Fleegler, 62, Chef, Caterer, Food Author

December 23, 2011
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Kathy Gaylord Fleegler, 62, a noted chef, caterer, food author and cooking instructor, died Nov. 18 in Philadelphia. She was a resident of Ambler.

Born Dec. 21, 1947 in Plainfield, N.J., after studying nursing at Temple University in Philadelphia, she practiced head- and neck-cancer nursing at Temple University Hospital, and then burn-care nursing at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.

After the birth of her first child in 1972, Fleegler and her family moved to Cleveland, where she cultivated a long-standing interest in cooking by leading cooking classes for her friends. She subsequently pursued advanced training in Gras, France, under the tutelage of Simone Beck, and later with Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and others, as well as at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. and Le Cordon Bleu in London.

She opened a catering business, Kathy Fleegler, Inc., that enjoyed much success, often serving up to 400 guests per weekend, and also ran the gourmet-food department at Gale's Supermarket, where she pioneered the concept of providing fully prepared meals for takeout in a supermarket setting.

Fleegler appeared as a chef on numerous television shows, both locally in Cleveland and nationally on "Good Morning America" with Paula Zahn, and contributed to numerous cooking magazines, including Chocolatier magazine, where she was a founding writer.

She also contributed to various cookbooks, including those by Maida Heatter and Betty Rosbottom. She became a Certified Culinary Professional of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and co-founded the Ohio chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.

Combining her medical and culinary skills, Fleegler also actively pursued an interest in food preparation and nutrition for patients recovering from illness. From approximately 1992 to 1995, she developed and ran the heart-healthy cooking program at Synergy, the first of its kind holistic heart-rehabilitation program, established at Case Western Reserve University.

She taught cooking classes at the University of Pennsylvania's Cardiac Care Program and at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Fleegler is survived by her husband, Earl Fleegler; sons Eric Fleegler and Michael Fleegler; sisters Lori Gagliardi and Cory Gaylord; brother Richard Gaylord; and three grandchildren.

Memorial donations can be sent to: the Penn Medicine Development Office, c/o Kathryn Sedam, 3535 Market St., Suite 750, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Checks can be made payable to the "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."

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