Bernard Casey: An Ordinary Person
Age quod agis. Several years ago a Jesuit priest at Fairfield University in Connecticut introduced this Latin phrase to Dr. Bernard Casey, and it’s been his philosophy of life ever since. What exactly does this phrase mean?
“‘Do what you are doing,’ so that when you’re working, work hard; when you’re playing, play hard; when you’re laughing, laugh hard; when you’re crying, cry hard. Do everything to the fullest and enjoy life to the fullest. Life is short, and we’ve got to take advantage of it,” said Bernard, who resides in Durham, N.H., with his wife, Kathleen, “Kathy.”
Bernard likes to describe himself as “an ordinary person, who’s been very lucky, very fortunate.” He says that he met the right people at the right time, including the Sisters of Providence.
“I grew up in Rochester, N.H. I was a parishioner of St. Mary’s School and St. Mary’s Church, which was, when I was a little boy, across the street from my house. It was a two room schoolhouse. Sister Agnes Rita [Lyons, RIP,] was my first teacher. I was there about five years, and then we moved to a new [facility] and there were two grades per classroom, as I recall,” said Bernard, who turned 68 in August.
Bernard also has warm memories of the late Sister Adrian Hickey. “Sister Adrian was just one of my all-time favorites. She was the principal and the seventh and eighth-grade teacher. I can see her smiling face as I sit here. She was just a wonderful sister,” continued Bernard.
After eight years of elementary school with the Sisters of Providence, Bernard continued his education at a public high school in Rochester. He then went to Fairfield University and later the University of Vermont Medical School in Burlington, graduating in 1969.
Bernard was able to achieve so much academically because of the strong foundation he received from the Sisters of Providence, his Catholic faith, his parents and his brothers, John, who is a retired dentist, and the late Gerard.
“My father was a butcher, and my mom stopped school in eighth-grade. They were not educated in an advanced way, but they were very interested in education. My brother [John] was very interested that I get a good education. He guided me along the way. He guided me to go to a Catholic university. And my parents were all for that also,” said Bernard.
John was influential in Bernard’s life in another way. John’s father-in-law, Albert Barcomb, RIP, was a physician.
“He was like Mr. Rochester. He was beloved in our town. He was most generous, just a great doctor, a great man. … I wanted to be like Dr. Barcomb because he was so nice to people. That got me started in medicine,” said Bernard, who retired last March.
After medical school, Bernard, who by this time had married Kathy, joined the U.S. Army. His residency was spent in diagnostic radiology at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco. In 1973 Bernard joined the staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he did a year’s fellowship in angiography and special procedures. This study of blood vessels eventually led to angioplasty and the use of stents. Bernard and his family then moved to Honolulu where he worked at Tripler Army Medical Center. In late 1976, Bernard returned to his home area, settling his family in Durham and working at two hospitals — Frisbie Memorial in Rochester and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H.
“I brought angiography and those special procedures to that area,” said Bernard, who has three children and six grandchildren.
For 35 years, the Casey family have been parishioners at St. Thomas More in Durham. Once again, the Sisters of Providence touched the lives of Bernard and Kathy as well as a second generation of Casey children. Sister Shawn Marie McDermott was the head of religious education at St. Thomas More when Bernard’s first two children were young. Sister Shawn Marie now lives in Malden, Mass., but Bernard and Kathy maintain close contact with her.
Bernard calls his gratitude to the sisters “eternal.” Because of this thankfulness to the sisters, Bernard and Kathy financially support the Congregation. “I couldn’t thank them enough for what they’ve done. I love them. They are great.”
This “ordinary person” has taken what has been given to him and lived his life to the fullest. And along the way, Bernard has been a blessing to his family, his patients, his church and to the Sisters of Providence.