At Shirle Casier’s passing, many dear friends have commented about the qualities that made her such a special person. One of her closest friends, Margery Baragona, captured her essence when she described Shirle “as a blithe spirit, pretty, smart, compassionate, witty, selfless and more.”
Shirle grew up in San Bernardino and Fresno, and was graduated from Hoover High in Glendale in 1946 after which she enrolled at UCSB, then located on the Riviera campus. She was active in college life, joining two vocal groups, Alpha Theta sorority and serving as the vice president of the student body. Shirle earned spending money by modeling in her spare time. In her senior year she married fellow collegian Bob Casier, thus beginning an enduring love affair of 66 plus years. Their serendipitous first encounter occurred when she was a “pick-up” at the Riviera bus stop.
Shirle was graduated with honors in early childhood education in 1950. She then began her teaching career at Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley while her husband was doing graduate work at Cal Berkeley. The young couple lived for a time in the Bay Area. They spent many happy hours in San Francisco where their first son was born before returning to Santa Barbara in 1953. After a ten year hiatus to rear their three young sons, Craig, Rodger and Bryan, she resumed her teaching career in the Hope School District in 1963 where she first taught primary grades and then became a reading specialist at Monte Vista School in a very successful professional career.
Two key family developments arose from the Monte Vista connection. First, fellow teacher Kristine Jones married Craig. Later, Bryan married Karen Amundson, who had been one of Shirle’s first grade students.
After middle son, Rodger, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Shirle devoted countless hours to involvement in mental health groups. She served on the Board of Directors of The Wellness Center, was honored as mental health volunteer of the year, participated in a panel discussion of mental health issues on the Today Show and in 2013 received a citation of appreciation from the County Board Of Supervisors.
Her efforts were rewarded, as Rodger became well known as an abstract artist. His accomplishments included the National Mental Illness Awareness poster in 2005 and paintings on the covers of ten magazines. He was a featured subject in the award winning documentary “Crazy Art”. Rodger’s illness led his younger brother Bryan to a career in mental health. He is currently a supervisor of a large children’s mental health clinic in Riverside County.
The Casier’s hosted numerous events at their ocean view property in Montecito, their home for 40 years. Shirley was always a gracious hostess and participated in many spirited discussions. Author and friend Pico Iyer fondly remembers Shirle as “one of the most wonderful conversational partners I’ve ever met – so intuitive, so generous, so frank, so penetrating.” Shirle shared a keen interest in politics with her husband, who taught Political Science at SBCC and UCSB.
The Casier family traveled frequently. They spent the summer of 1967 visiting historical sites in the U.S. and their three sons were thrilled to watch every Major League team play. Trips to Europe always included visits to Bob’s relatives in Belgium. In 1970-71 the Casiers spent the entire year traversing Europe in a Volkswagen camper, with stays in France and Spain. In later years Bob and Shirle took trips to many foreign lands, some in connection with Bob’s profession.
Retirement began in 1990 when Shirle assumed part-time care for grandchildren Drew and Elizabeth. Their father, Craig, recently recalled that his mother “enjoyed reading to them, doing messy paintings together and playing in self-constructed cardboard boxes.” Later Shirle and Bob cheered their grandkids on at swim meets and took them on many trips, including white-water rafting and ocean cruises. The grandchildren, friends and students enjoyed the Casier “playground”, which included bocci ball, tennis and basketball.
In 2013 the Casiers moved to Vista Del Monte, involving themselves in many activities and making many new friends. Shirle’s last years were rich and fulfilling. A celebration of life ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 14th at 3:00 in the Main Lounge at Vista Del Monte, 3775 Modoc Rd.
She is survived by her husband, Bob, her son Craig and his wife Kristine, their children Drew and Elizabeth, son Bryan and his wife Karen, her sister, Virginia Andrews and her children, Susan and Richard, Bob’s sister, Alberta Rossi and her children, Randy, Rick and Roberta, Bob’s niece, Caroline Bows, his brother’s daughter and relatives in Belgium and France. She was predeceased by her son Rodger. Remembrance gifts may be made to Crescend Health (Formerly Phoenix House), the Mental Wellness Center or any local non-profit associated with student scholarships.
Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett Mortuary