Raymond A. & Mary Jean Cassidy Charitable Fund

Mary Jean and Raymond CassidyFor a long time my brothers and I allowed the manner in which our parents died to overshadow the joy in which they lived.  We lost our parents in a tragic fire at their home in February 1999.

As the years have passed, our personal sense of loss has been replaced with an undeniable truth about our parents.  Much of their joy was immersed in their community.

It must have been exciting for Dad to return in 1957 to his home place of Magnet with his red haired beauty by his side.  With the view of the Ohio River as the back drop and their general store next door, they would raise a lively trio of one daughter and two sons.

It seems to us now that our parent’s social graces just came naturally.  For nearly forty years, six days a week, Dad and Mom greeted regular customers and strangers in the same cheerful manner.  We heard the excitement in their voices at the news of a new baby in the neighborhood.  We witnessed their sadness learning of a neighbor’s loss.  Throughout our lives, we observed their genuine decency.

Priorities were clear for our parents.  Love your children, take time for your neighbors and delight in the success of others, especially that of young people.  At the time of their death, they had one granddaughter, Erin.  They appeared in awe of her every move and provided her unlimited access to their little corner of the world.

Dad and Mom were influenced by a strong religious belief.  Mom was an organist and soloist at St. Augustine Church in Leopold.  Every Saturday, we knew that all extracurricular functions would be delayed until her musical obligations ended at the conclusion of Mass.  When we were younger, this was particularly difficult if Perry Central was playing ball that evening.  While waiting in the car with Dad, we would pray that she would use her strength to bolt from church quickly and sacrifice her desire to speak to others. Those prayers were unanswered.

There were heroic, poignant and humorous moments throughout their lives.  Dad’s service to his country during WWII proudly remained etched in his mind.  Every year with his beautiful penmanship, he would write letters to many soldiers from his unit.  The letters continued until his death.  Dad enjoyed sports, particularly horse racing.  He would high step it off the porch on Sunday mornings heading in the direction of his beloved Churchill Downs.

Mom gave time and assistance to those who would otherwise be alone.  She was quite the seamstress, mending and hemming for neighbors and friends.  During the 70’s, she took to making colorful shirts for the men in her family.  She was constantly on the run and that lead to some memorable moments.  She would forget to put the car in park, landing the car keys in the freezer, letting the washing machine flood a section of the first floor of our home and unwisely leaving my brothers and I unattended at the kitchen table while she waited on a customer.

The fire that claimed the lives of our parents also destroyed much of the history of Magnet.  When the debris was finally cleared it seemed as if a diversion of the river had occurred that would continue to erode what was left of the town and our memories.  Instead, we had only begun to understand the lessons of our parents.  Faith, family and friendship do indeed provide the greatest source of joy in our lives.  Mom and Dad considered themselves blessed by the good fortune of having the opportunity to live and raise their family in this special community.  Billy, Neal and I are proud of them for placing their trust in the Perry County Community Foundation for the purpose of continuing their spirit of giving.  We have special admiration for this organization, for it will far exceed any other tributes to our parents.  We gratefully recognize and cherish the uncommon atmosphere that surrounded us for much of our lives.  The memories of our parents will remain are choice possessions.  Their inspiring story will someday rest solely in the hands of the Perry County Community Foundation.

– Lori Cassidy