Antonia ‘Toni’ Casagrande

Antonia Maria Giovanna Casagrande died on Wednesday morning, 11 October 2017, at her apartment after a long and couragous battle with cancer. Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on 28 June 1963 to Peter J. and Pamela M. Casagrande, she lived in Lawrence since August 1967, attending Cordley Elementary, Central Junior and Lawrence High Schools. For two years she attended DePauw University in Indiana, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and graduated from Kansas University with three majors and a Phi Beta Kappa Key. She was an accomplished pianist and harpist. She received a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellowship to study in Milan, Italy, and from there she went to Berlin to continue to learn German and observe the downing of the Berlin Wall. She exchanged instruction in English for instruction in German. She returned to Lawrence in 1991 with a concrete piece from the Berlin Wall. She also traveled in Spain, France, Mexico, and England, expanding her knowledge of European languages and culture. On her return to Lawrence she began graduate work while teaching beginning Italian at KU. One summer she led a student group for study in Italy. Her apartment burned in the Sunflower Bike Shop fire in 1997 and so did her pictures, her vintage furniture, her beloved cat and most of her writing. She never returned to finish her graduate work, though she continued to write poetry and fiction to the end of her life.

Antonia was an avid collector of Native American and Mexican pottery as well as vintage pottery and clothing. Much of that burned in the fire, but she continued buying and selling and collecting until the end of her life. She loved cats and gardening and baking. She shared her baked goods and her gardening skills for the last seven years of her life with her neighbors by baking cakes, muffins, cookies and breads and by reviving several flower gardens that had gone to weeds.

She is survived by her parents Pamela and Peter, and by two sisters, Teresa Casagrande and Elizabeth Shields; two brothers, Peter Christopher and Vincent; three nieces, Bailey, Mia and Sienna and a nephew, Joseph. She also is survived by 3 aunts, an uncle and 7 cousins. She will be missed by the children of her cousins in Montana and California. At times she prepared and sent amazing boxes of books and treasures to them. Her family and friends will miss her long notes, unusual gifts, flowers, plants and books.

Her parents thank the medical community of Lawrence, especially Dr. Penn and his staff, Dr. Klish and his staff, Dr. Huerter and his staff and Dr. King and her staff for their care and concern and patience in caring for Toni.

A memorial celebration of her life will be held 12 November 2017 at Maceli’s from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

Messages & Condolences

From Laurie...

This dearest of hearts crossed my path in a purchase she made of my beloved Mexican tonala owls some years back, at Etsy. I knew we were kindred spirits, at that interaction, and we became friends. I doubt there is a bigger heart than hers in this world; she was so humble, and positive, and giving, even in her most challenging of times and health trials. I google flew over her garden to see the magic she wrought by her hand. Her Iris are growing just outside my door, and some roots and seeds she shared are as yet unplanted, they await a season. I will always treasure this sweet soul, who I knew, who knew me, and who was a truly extraordinary human. I never saw her grown up face, all I knew of her was by her uncommon and intellectual writings, prose, and a photo we each exchanged of ourselves as children, frozen in time. Her gift packages were such a delight to me in my own trying times. She knew what it was to keep the child within us, always alive. So sad with the news of her passing, (in my heart I instinctively knew by her lapse of communications) I will never ever, forget her. My sincere condolences to her family, far and wide. What an inspiration, she was.

From Lois and Fred Mersmann...

Pam and Pete,
So sorry for your loss. May God grant you peace.

From Debbie Grasser Filkins...

Pam and Pete – I pray for peace for you and all the rest of your family in this hard time. She will be remembered by all fondly.

From Tracy Floreani...

Dear Casagrande Family,
my heartfelt sympathies to you all. The summer Toni and I lived together in Italy was a deeply influential period in my life, and I will forever treasure the experiences we had together. She challenged my mind and soul in so many ways.

From Barbara Hays Jefferson...

My heart goes out to you, Mr and Mrs Casagrande, Theresa and your brothers and sister. I just heard of Toni’s passing and wanted to let you all know you are in my thoughts and prayers!!!

From April Ramos...

Dear Pam and Pete, I’m so sorry to hear of Toni’s passing. Please know that her soul and your family are in my prayers. God bless you all!

From Kate Tuttle...

My dear old friend. I’m so sorry to hear this news. She’ll always be in my heart.

From loni hosking...

love you forever toniman <3

From Marguerite Risley and Todd Michael Risley...

We remember Tony so fondly, she will always be in our memories.

From Mike and Nancy Patterson...

So very sorry for your loss. I always pinch my mum’s back the way she showed me. Wonderful soul.

From Paula Hatcher...

I’ll always remember Toni’s Bakelite bracelets at our Dog and Pony dinners. Our love to you, Pete and Pam, and peace to your family.

From Brad Koehler...

I am truly sorry to hear about Toni’s passing. She was a powerhouse of art and inspiration when I knew her in the late 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s. She touched many lives and her memory will be treasured. May she have peace.

From Bruce Lister...

Sweet Soul!! RIParadise!!! prayers and thoughts to the friends and family of Toni!!! 🙁

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