Robert Francis Casey, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away on Feb. 13, 2019 at the age of 97. Bob was born on July 8, 1921 in Providence, R.I., to Katherine Marion Cahill and Thomas Martin Casey, and always considered himself the luckiest guy on the planet.
As a young man, his family moved to Warwick, R.I., where he met Louise Frances Lepry, the love of his life.
Like so many of his generation, Bob’s romance with Louise was interrupted by WWII when he went to war as a sergeant in the U.S. Army to help free the world from fascism.
At the conclusion of the war, after tours of duty in Africa and Italy, he returned home to Rhode Island and his sweetheart, Louise. The two were married in 1948 and began their life together. Bob attended Providence College on the G.I. Bill and began the construction of a custom home in Warwick, R.I. for his growing family.
After graduating from Providence College, he went on to teach math to seventh and eighth graders at Aldrich Junior High School in Warwick. Bob loved teaching. He possessed a unique ability to intuit the needs of each student and worked hard to make sure those needs were met, all the while having a lot of fun with the kids. Annually, when the year-end standardized test results were analyzed, Bob’s principal would ask him how he was able to improve his students’ math fluency so significantly. Bob would annually respond he wasn’t sure; he was just teaching math, a subject he loved.
As his family grew, Bob taught summer school at Aldrich Junior High and helped manage the City of Warwick playgrounds. He needed two jobs to support his family. Every time he and Louise had a child, he would add another bedroom to their sprawling ranch house which was located near Apponaug Cove.
The couple had six children: Tom, Ann, Cathy, Mary, Patricia and Paula. Having been an only child, Bob loved his big family. Every day he played with his children, encouraged them and told them that if they worked hard, they could be and do whatever they wanted in life.
He was a man ahead of his time with his attitude towards women and girls. He taught all of his children how to mow lawns, clean pools, pull dandelions from the “18th Hole” (his favorite lawn) and take care of boats, all of which prepared them for taking care of their own homes and boats.
His philosophy in parenting was that “all heads are equal.”
He loved all of his children equally. He was a man with a great capacity to love, and fully and easily shared that love with his family.
He thoroughly enjoyed the company of all of Louise’s siblings and their spouses: Rose Cross (Jim), John Lepry (Rachel), Anna Brown (Joe), Dolores Lepry, Rita Russo (Tony) and Lou Lepry (Joan). Bob and Louise loved socializing with that crew and spent many, many days and nights with them laughing, eating and enjoying each other’s company. Bob also loved his 20 nieces and nephews, and his cousins and their wives and children: Robert Gentile (Margaret), Dave Gibbons (Joan) and Frank Cahill (Dolores), all of whom lived in close proximity to Bob and Louise.
He was an avid sports fan who loved the Boston Red Sox, the Celtics and the New England Patriots. He transferred his love of sports to his children, many of whom were scholarship athletes at Division I colleges in the 1970s and 80s when Title IX was in its infancy.
Bob religiously attended all of his children’s sporting events, always quietly watching from the sidelines, always gently rehashing the event with them after the game ended. He rejoiced in his childrens’ accomplishments and comforted them when they stumbled.
In 1979, after 30 years of teaching, Bob and Louise retired to their vacation home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. At the same time, many of their children were migrating west in search of adventure, jobs and/or postgraduate opportunities. When five of their six children relocated to the West Coast, the couple decided to follow them west to Whidbey Island, a small but eminently beautiful island in Puget Sound, where they would spend the rest of their lives together. Winters were much more bearable on Whidbey and their lives were enriched by the presence of the children, their children’s spouses, their grandchildren and their friends, and all the dogs they brought with them in tow. Quickly they came to love Whidbey Island for its fresh air, beautiful meadows, long elegant beaches, exceptional mountain vistas and warm lovely people.
To his entire family, Bob was beloved. The impact he made on each and every one of them is as deep as it is lasting. Through his calm steadfast demeanor he taught everyone he encountered the importance of kindness, treating all people with respect and finding joy in every facet of one’s life. He was a man who loved to laugh and was at his happiest surrounded by his family and friends, be it at the dinner table, on the golf course, or sitting on the couch watching a baseball game. His passing leaves this world a little less bright, but the knowledge that his spirit lives on in all those fortunate enough to have known him should give comfort to all who mourn his passing.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife Louise in 2000, and is survived by his children and their spouses: Tom and Pam Casey; Ann Casey and Carol Plunkett; Cathy Shackleton and Michael Shackleton (deceased); Mary Casey and Craig Russell; Patricia Lindstadt; Paula and John Orehek; his grandchildren and their spouses: Christine Shackleton and Andy Karig, Daniel Shackleton, Thomas Russell, Michael Orehek, Matthew Orehek, Rachel Orehek and his great-grandchild William Karig.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday July 6, 2019 at St. Hubert’s Catholic Church in Langley with a reception to follow in Read Hall.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following three charities that benefited Bob:
• WhidbeyHealth Hospice, 202 N. Main St., Coupeville, WA 98239. Please include Robert F. Casey’s name on the donation.
• Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, or WAIF, P.O. Box 1108, Coupeville, WA 98239. Note: in memory of Robert F. Casey
• South Whidbey Senior Center, 14594 SR 525, Langley, WA 98260. Note: in memory of Robert F. Casey