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.