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Kenneth Casey: Veteran, industrialist, agriculturalist

Veteran, industrialist, agriculturalist, family man

Kenneth Ross Casey died on December 4, 2015 in Claremont. He was 95. 

He was born in Pomona in 1920 to John Ransom and Bessie Casey. He grew up going to Pomona schools, helping tend his family and friends’ citrus trees, playing football and participating in outdoor adventures with the Boy Scouts. After he graduated from Pomona High School in 1938 he attended Stanford University, following in the footsteps of his older brother John. Immediately upon graduation in 1942, Mr. Casey enlisted in the US Navy where he served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. As a lieutenant, he was assigned to an aircraft carrier in the Aleutian Islands. 

When the war ended, he returned to Pomona to marry his Pomona High School classmate Nancy Louise Gillen. He and his new wife returned to Stanford University for an additional year, where he earned his master’s in engineering before returning to live in the Pomona Valley. For the next three decades Mr. Casey was employed at Kaiser Steel, starting in the roll shop as an engineer and then moving into management. At the end of his career, he served as vice president of operations. He spent his final years as president of a fabrication plant, an auxiliary to Kaiser Steel. 

When the Caseys first returned to California, they moved to a La Verne house located on an orange grove. Mr. Casey served as manager, waking up in the wee hours to light the smudge pots that kept the fruit from freezing during cold weather. In 1960, the Caseys moved to Claremont with their son Patrick and daughter Pamela, but Kenneth remained active in agricultural enterprises his entire life. More recently, he was actively involved in the management of an avocado grove he owned in Temecula. 

Upon retirement, Mr. Casey served on the Board of VEBA, a non-profit organization that managed the retirement funds of former Kaiser Employees. Mr. Casey enjoyed golfing and socializing with longtime Pomona Valley friends. He also enjoyed following sports, especially the doings of his beloved Stanford football team. In 1941, Kenneth’s older brother joined the team in competing at the Rose Bowl, a triumphant game in which the Cardinals beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Two years ago, his son and son-in-law took him to watch Stanford compete in the Rose Bowl once again.

Mr. Casey journeyed across Europe, the United States, Mexico and Canada with his wife as well as to exotic locales like China, Greece and Turkey. One of the couple’s favorite trips was to eastern Africa on a safari to see the wild animals. 

A devoted family man, he is survived by his wife of 69 years, Nancy Gillen Casey; his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Cynthia Casey of Orinda, California; his daughter and son-in-law, Pamela and Steven Nagler of Claremont, and his grandchild, Lucia Nagler of Los Angeles.

A service will be held on Friday, December 11 at 1 p.m. at Todd Memorial Chapel, 570 N. Garey Ave. in Pomona, with a graveside service at Pomona Memorial Park Cemetery immediately following.