Mayor Robert Cassidy   2001 - 2002
born Dec. 12, 1918   died Nov. 29, 2009
 
A Gem in the Desert

Last October, Borrego Springs’ former honorary mayor Robert Cassidy proudly handed over a toy stoplight to successor Robert Piva. Although it lacked the hoopla of a presidential changing of the guard, the multi-colored ornament stands a symbol of the California town’s dedication to a way of life.

“It’s the only stoplight in town,” Cassidy says with a chuckle. “And it’s the mayor’s job to keep it that way.”

“We don’t have a stoplight or a mall, but we could go to a mall and stoplight if we have to,” Piva jokes.

Of course, the lack of a stoplight has a lot to do with its location—smack dab in the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which, at 600,000 acres is the largest state park in the Lower 48 states. Residents have been known to jokingly describe their town as the state park’s “doughnut hole.”

This remote desert location isn’t lost on its 2,789 residents.

“Everybody in Borrego Springs wants to be here,” says 84-year-old Cassidy. “No one ends up in Borrego Springs by accident.” To offer some perspective, the nearest supermarket or movie theater is a 90-minute drive away.

“And if you don’t like the desert,” Cassidy says, “don’t come to Borrego Springs.”

“People who love the desert really love it here,” adds longtime resident Kelley Jorgensen, “and people who don’t usually leave.”

As you might expect, for most of the year it’s hot . . . really hot. The temperature usually tops 100 degrees every day for four months of the year, with summer temperatures frequently reaching 110. A typical year features just 7 inches of rain.

“You actually can fry an egg on the sidewalk,” Jorgensen says. “But it’s really small-town life at its best. No crime to speak of, everyone knows each other—and boy do the stars come out at night.”

Another part of Borrego Springs’ appeal lies in a vibrant arts community. The Performing Arts Center hosts a resident theater company, the Community Concert Association brings musical groups to town, a dance studio offers classes and concerts, and a dozen or so galleries display a vast variety of paintings and sculptures.

The town also sits amid breathtaking desert scenery that, in wet years, can draw 5,000 visitors on springtime weekends, when desert wildflowers bloom. The desert scenery is what first drew Piva to the area. “We had four kids and in 1961 we started taking them on trips to the desert,” he recalls. “I love the vast openness of the desert.”

There’s also plenty of hiking to satisfy the most ardent trekker. The Pacific Crest Trail passes near town, as well as one of California’s best equestrian trails.

The Borrego Valley had its first European visitors in 1772, but the town didn’t really get started until the first successful well was dug in 1926. The discovery of a year-round water source prompted the establishment of a thriving citrus-growing industry. If you’ve ever had a grapefruit from Harry & David’s Fruit of the Month Club, you’ve sampled the town’s main export. In fact, citrus farming remains Borrego Springs’ biggest industry, followed by tourism. Scenic landscapes and manicured golf courses make the town a popular destination for retirees.

New residents are often struck by Borrego Springs’ civic-mindedness. Donations paid for the high school’s new gymnasium, as well as a world-class skate park for skaters and skateboarders, and booster clubs continually fund civic projects.

Although there are plenty of vacant lots in town, Jorgensen says growth is limited because the town is surrounded by the park. And for residents, that’s just fine.

“We like it here because it’s so unique and serene,” Piva concludes. “We have the openness and the small population. That’s just how we like it.”

Robert Henry is a Los Angeles-based writer.  first appeared: 3/14/2004

source: http://www.americanprofile.com/article/3899.html


 
Love that Bob
by Judy Meier,
Editor, Borrego Sun
Sept 3, 2009

Standing-room-only capacity was reached soon after the reception started Aug. 23, 2009 as dozens of friends of Borregan Bob Cassidy crowded into his Villas Borrego condominium to bid him farewell. The small living room was just oozing affection.

I am not surprised at the range of activities in which Bob participated during his 29 years in the valley, or the high regard this community holds for him. Bob has been a part of untold areas of the valley, continuing a tradition of caring that dates back to his long career as a registered nurse specializing in psychiatry.

He moved to Borrego in 1980 and dived into the local scene, volunteering at the state park, serving on the board of the Civic Foundation – including as president, joining St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and filling many roles there. He joined Rotary Club and worked with the Performing Arts Center and Golden Share food distribution program.

The Chamber of Commerce officially noted Bob’s contributions to Borrego Springs by naming him honorary mayor in both 2001 and 2002. “Borrego has been so good to me,” Bob said at his party. “Serving two times as honorary mayor was a real honor.”

Lynn Wilderson, who coordinated Bob’s farewell party, met him when they became neighbors at Santiago Estates. “He’s my ‘kissing cousin,’ ” she said, noting that Cassidy is also her family name. “We just fell in love.”

Now 90, Bob is relocating to Indiana to be closer to his family. “Borrego has provided me with a wonderful, wonderful retirement home. Borregans are wonderful people,” he said, shaking his head in wonder at all the people who stopped in to wish him well.

With the nonstop kisses and hugs Bob’s friends bestowed upon him at the party, it was obvious those warm feelings were reciprocated.


Vol. 58, No. 25 Borrego Springs, California December 10, 2009

OBITUARY

Two-time honorary mayor Bob Cassidy dies at 91

Most people around here knew him as “Mayor Bob.” Robert Thomas “Bob” Cassidy, a two-time honorary mayor of Borrego Springs and longtime community volunteer, died Nov. 29 in Elwood, Ind., only two months after leaving the desert he loved dearly. He was 91.

Mr. Cassidy had just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with 24 family members in Indiana when he fell ill and was hospitalized with pneumonia, according to his son, Thomas.

“He died suddenly, but very peacefully, and surrounded by family,” his son said.

Relishing the role of mayor during the seasons of 2002 and 2003, Mr. Cassidy “lived and breathed Borrego,” according to his son. A local resident for 29 years, Mr. Cassidy bought a home sight-unseen at the Silver Dons (now Santiago Estates) when he read an L.A. Times article about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Having lost his 56-year-old wife to pancreatic cancer in 1979, Mr. Cassidy relocated to Borrego from Indiana in August 1980 and spent hours walking the valley as a way to heal his grief.

A volunteer for ABDSP, a member of the Rotary Club, Civic Foundation, and a past board member of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce and Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center, Mr. Cassidy immersed himself in all things Borrego. He also worked for awhile at Palm Canyon Resort’s Mercantile and for Mort’s Apparel.

He attended both St. Richard’s Catholic Church (Saturday nights) and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church (Sunday mornings). A celebration of Mr. Cassidy’s life will be held locally later in the season. A funeral mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Elwood Dec. 4.

Born Dec. 12, 1918, in Dubuque, Iowa, Mr. Cassidy graduated high school in 1937 and attended an all male nursing school in St. Louis. He joined the Army and served as a surgical nurse from 1942 to 1946, obtaining the rank of master sergeant with the 123rd Evacuation Hospital.

In April 1946 he married his wife, Ida “Joan.” The couple moved to Indiana where Mr. Cassidy worked for 33 years as a registered nurse for the Veteran’s Administration in a psychiatric hospital in Marion. He obtained his master’s degree in psychological counseling from Indiana University.

Mr. Cassidy’s job included providing group and individual therapy for returning Vietnam War veterans who suffered a myriad of problems. He once shared, “We really didn’t have a clue as to how to help them. It was the time of experimental medications that would make the patients sicker than when they came in.”

Mr. Cassidy had said that when his wife died and he first moved to the desert he was “very angry with this world,” but the valley and the people who live here helped him to recover from his grief.

“He just kind of brought the whole community together. Everybody in Borrego loved him, because he was Bob,” said his longtime friend Borregan Lynn Wilderson.

In addition to his son Thomas of Elwood, Mr. Cassidy is survived by his daughter, Kathleen Cassidy Murphy of Olathe, Kan., his brother Francis of Winter Park, Colo., a sister Barbara Frommelt of Iowa; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial donations be made to the Guatemala project of East Main St. Christian Church, 1801 Main Street, Elwood, IN 46036.


 

Sign Bob Cassidy's Memory Book


The Herald Bulletin

Robert Thomas "Bob" Cassidy
Dec. 12, 1918 - Nov. 29, 2009

BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. — Former Elwood resident Robert T. Cassidy, 90, of Borrego Springs, Calif., died Nov. 29, 2009, at St. Vincent Mercy Hospital in Elwood.

He served in the U.S. Army.

Survivors include daughter, Kathleen (husband, Pat) Murphy; and son, Thomas J. (wife, Angela) Cassidy.

His wife, Ida Joan (Allaire) Cassidy, died Dec. 5, 1979.

Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Elwood. Burial in Garden of Memory Cemetery, Marion.

Visitation 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Dunnichay Funeral Home, Elwood.

Memorials to East Main Street Christian Church Guatemala Project through the funeral home.

BORREGO LOVES BOB CASSIDY
by Wendy Quinn  Sep 2009

Bob Cassidy has touched many lives in a special way. Born and raised Roman Catholic in Dubuque, Iowa, by a mother who was a pillar of the church and in a home right behind it, Bob joined the Episcopal Church when he moved to Borrego Springs in 1980. He was attracted by the opportunity to take an active role in the functioning of the Church and by the perception that others listened to and valued his opinions. To that end, Bob has served on the Vestry and Carillon staff, held the position of Assistant Treasurer and was affectionately known as the Junior Priest.

Before retirement, Bob had a long and rewarding career as a Registered Nurse for the Veterans Administration. His field was psychiatry, and he practiced both group and individual therapy for the acutely and chronically ill. It is apparent by the many friends he has helped here that this talent has continued. Bob is justifiably proud of his successes in helping others understand themselves, solve problems and find meaning and purpose in life. He would absolutely do it over again.

After his daughter introduced him to Borrego Springs, Bob lived at Silver Dons Mobile Home Park (now Santiago Estates), "lucky" space number 13, until four years ago when he relocated to his present condominium in Villas Borrego. During his nearly 30 years here, Bob has served two terms as Honorary Mayor (the first to do so), 2001-03. He has also been active in the Civic Foundation, State Park, Performing Arts Center, Rotary Club and Golden Share.

Religion has always been a part of Bob's life, and he feels the Episcopal Church helped him achieve comfort in his means of communicating with God. He turns to religion for support, security, and strength in his beliefs, and thanks God for His help in making decisions. Bob has made an impression on all those who know him, in so many different and positive ways. As he enters a new phase of his life near family in Indiana, it seems a foregone conclusion he will make friends quickly and serve his new community. His humor, wisdom and tireless efforts will surely be missed. Good luck, Bob!

Obituary

Robert T. Cassidy Dec. 12, 1918 - Nov. 29, 2009 BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. — Former Elwood resident Robert T. Cassidy, 90, of Borrego Springs, Calif., died Nov. 29, 2009, at St. Vincent Mercy Hospital in Elwood. He served in the U.S. Army. Survivors include daughter, Kathleen (husband, Pat) Murphy; and son, Thomas J. (wife, Angela) Cassidy. His wife, Ida Joan (Allaire) Cassidy, died Dec. 5, 1979. Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Elwood. Burial in Garden of Memory Cemetery, Marion. Visitation 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Dunnichay Funeral Home, Elwood. Memorials to East Main Street Christian Church Guatemala Project through the funeral home.

source:  http://heraldbulletin.com/local/x546203327/Dec-1-Local-Obituaries?start:int=60
see also: http://www.tributes.com/show/Robert-Cassidy-87341272