Happy 90th birthday to Mary Margaret Casey. Mary was born in Iowa on Dec. 9, 1917. Her dad, John Fuchs, was an illegal alien from Germany. Fuchs is German for "fox." John was a baker who had trained for that profession in several countries in Europe. He married Maggie May Bruce in Iowa and the couple had 13 children, including Mary. The Fuchs opened a bakery but had to close it during World War I when people reacted to John's heritage.
The family eventually moved to Washington and Mary worked in about five bakeries to earn a bakery degree.
"They eventually quit issuing licenses," Mary said. "Now you just go to work in one (bakery) and you're a baker."
Mary was married and had two children, but later got a divorce. She met Carl Casey in 1950. His mother worked in their bakery. They were married July 22, 1950. Readers may remember Bill Casey, who has been featured a couple times in this column. Carl is Bill's brother. Carl drove logging trucks then. A few years later and after 22 years in the bakery business, Mary became a librarian. She also loved to read and built an enormous private library. She and Carl had two children in addition to the two Mary brought into the marriage.
In 1974 Carl changed professions and started working on the trans-Alaska pipeline. The next year Mary came to Alaska for a visit. A health crisis struck in 1976. While at work in the library, Mary collapsed. This problem was so serious that she was put in a hospital in California and had to retire from the library. She had worked in libraries for 22 years. Perhaps her careers could be referred to as "Catch-22"? Meanwhile, the pipeline opened in 1977 and Carl found a job as a maintenance man with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He was stationed at the Crooked Creek Hatchery in Kasilof, but was sent to numerous locations.
The Caseys drove their pickup to Alaska in 1980. They moved into Jack Beesler's huge house on Carol Road, off South Cohoe Loop. By a strange coincidence, Jack's mother had worked at the Fuch's Bakery. In 1984 they moved to North Cohoe on Ness Road by the old post office. Carl worked for Fish and Game for 12 years before retiring. His birthday is Dec. 16 and he will he be 82.
Awed by Mary's exposure to books, I asked for her favorites.
"I've always enjoyed history of the Northwest," she said. "I had one of Captain Cook's journals and donated it to the Kenai Historical Society."
Mary's voice is heard daily on the radio with the Central Area Rural Transit System Inc. (CARTS) ad.
The Tustumena Elementary School's parent-teacher organization is holding its annual $2,500 grand-prize cash raffle drawing at 7 p.m. Saturday in the multi-purpose room. Tickets are $20 and are traditionally limited to sales of 400. Ticketholders are invited to enjoy appetizers and watch the drawing.
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