Outstanding Philanthropist Award: Connie and Harold Casey
Glacier City Gazette was given a copy of the speech on Nov. 15 posthumously presenting the Outstanding Philanthropist Award to Connie and Harold Casey, who were longtime Girdwood residents.
The Outstanding Philanthropist Award is presented to the individual or family who has demonstrated exceptional civic responsibility by providing ongoing and major financial support as well as strong leadership to community-wide major fundraising projects.
Today the Outstanding Philanthropist Award is presented posthumously to Connie and Harold Casey.
We decided there is no better way to describe the late Connie and Harold Casey than in the words of their good friend, Larry Daniel in his letter of support for this nomination:
“I arrived in Girdwood in June 1974. The second person I met was Connie Casey and within the hour, I had met Harold Casey. (I suspect that only Casey’s Mother and Father called him Harold, everyone else just called him Casey).
Connie was the Front Operations Manager for the Nugget Inn at Alyeska and Casey was the Bar Manager. Connie almost always had a smile and Casey occasionally smirked. Connie and Casey never had any children, so they made up for that by taking every young “liftie”, ski bum, cocktail waitress, bar tender, carpenter or welder they met under their wing if by conversation or a little help when they needed it.
Within a year or so, Casey opened “Casey’s Spirit Shop” on the board walk next to the Bake Shop. From that vantage, Casey kept track of just about everyone in Alyeska and Girdwood. Along with the “spirits”, Casey also sold popcorn, candy and soda, so his customers covered the gamut from 7 to 70.
A good Irishman, Casey was also a member of his local Catholic Church. For years our small parish rented the Methodist Chapel for Sunday evening services. By the late 90’s, we felt we needed to raise the money for our own church. Connie and Casey stepped forward to make the largest donation from a Girdwood resident. And they helped us out several more times with substantial donations, most unsolicited.
Connie and Casey were not flashy. They drove a Dodge sedan for a very long time and later, a couple of Subarus. Their home in Girdwood was about 1200 SF. The last few years, they also had a condo in Anchorage. They traveled some. Usually a once a year trip to somewhere off the beaten path with their good friends Werner and Leslie Egloff. They loved to share those experiences. They had the means to have much more material possessions, but they were satisfied with what they had.
Their true wealth was in the endless relationships that they developed over the years. Their living room was always full with friends stopping by for a visit. Their stories were endless. And their friends bridged several generations. Even though they had no children of their own, Connie and Casey were parents, grandparents, good friends and good Samaritans to a huge number of people.
During their lifetimes, Connie and Casey gave generously of their time and energy, they helped friends with medical bills, and buying a house, and just stretching from one paycheck to the next. They are an example to all of us that one does not need to be independently wealthy to be a philanthropist and to leave a legacy.
In their estate, Connie and Harold established an endowment at Providence Hospital “recognizing their 54 years of marriage and to support their Alaskan friends and neighbors experiencing cancer.” Because of the Casey’s the Providence mission of steadfast care to the poor and vulnerable will continue into perpetuity at the Cancer Center for generations to come.
The impact of the gift is unique as another gift from their estate benefits students receiving nursing education and training through the College of Health at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The dual gifts to both organizations address health from two sides – the patient and the caregiver.
Their legacy gift is the largest made to Providence by individuals since Providence Alaska Foundation began in 1983.
Every now and again we hear in the news of large corporate gifts to nonprofit but planning charitable gifts through an estate takes forethought and preparation. Connie and Harold truly knew what it took to be philanthropists and for that, we remember and honor them – this year’s Outstanding Philanthropists!