Former Monte resident and librarian M. Margaret Casey passed away at home on June 5. She was 96. She was with her husband of 63 years, Carl B. Casey.
She was born Mary Margaret Fox on December 9, 1917, in Vinton, Iowa, to John and Mary (Bruce) Fox; the first of 13 children. At the age of 4, her parents, two siblings and aunt drove a Model T out west. They briefly stayed in Yakima, near the Yakima Nation, where Margaret attended her first school. The family moved after one year to Buckley, where they opened a bakery. She mastered her baking craft by the time she was 18.
She graduated from Buckley High School in 1935 and married Charles Rock. The couple moved to Elma, where their first child, Judith Marie, was born in 1939. Kay Theresa was born in 1945 in Buckley. Margaret and Charles divorced shortly after WWII. She worked for her father at the Fox Bakery in Montesano, where she met Carl Casey. They were married in 1950, and lived in Montesano for 13 years, adding two additional children. Their son, Tom, was born in 1951, and another daughter, Molly, in 1954.
Margaret began work for the Montesano Public Library in 1954, and began a long and committed career in library service. Her true love was the Mobile Library Service operated by Grays Harbor County Library. She devoted herself to bringing tailored service to each individual on the many routes of the lumbering “bookmobile.” She would load the mega van with books matching the requests and preference of each patron. The routes included Tahola, Grisdale, Quinault, Cedarville, North River and Wishkah. Later in her career, she played a major role in forming the Timberland Regional Library System. She inventoried every book in every library in five counties. Books that were in multiple editions or outdated or in poor condition were discarded, making room for a much more expanded number of titles. The legacy of that work is at service today and a clear achievement. Hhowever, her role as “Casey, the Bookmobile Lady” remained her personal joy.
Books were her life, and she continued that interest after moving to Alaska in 1975 to join her husband Carl, who had gone north earlier to begin work on the Alaskan pipeline. They remained in that state for 39 years, moving to various and remote locations before settling on the Kenai Peninsula. Their home was a popular destination for friends and family from the “lower 48.” As was her character, she and Carl made many friends who became “family” and established a completely new and active life of hunting, fishing, gardening, travel and hosting. They returned to Washington in September of 2013 and lived near Shelton, where their daughter, Molly, assisted them.
Mary Margaret was a devout Catholic. She attended mass with her children at St. Johns Catholic Mission in Montesano, and at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Soldotna, Alaska. She was a generous donor to scores of charities, particularly those that served special needs children around the world, native Americans, and the conservation of natural resources.
She is survived by her husband at their home and her four children; Judith Parmenter (John), Kay Bowen, Tom Casey, and Mary Margaret “Molly” Casey (Ray Rothrock). She had 10 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
A Catholic funeral mass will be celebrated at noon Tuesday, June 24, at St. John’s Catholic Mission in Montesano. A full reception will follow at the Mission’s Community Hall next door to the church.
Flowers will be set at the mass. Other donations can be made to charities of choice, including; Friends of the Library and St. John’s.