Roger Awsumb’s Memorial Service

Jack Kennelly attended Roger Awsumb’s funeral and shared this report:

Casey Jones will be remembered

Roger Leonard Awsumb, known to generations of Minnesota children as Casey Jones, died July 15th following a cardiac arrest in Brainerd. He was 74.

A Celebration of the Life of Roger Awsumb “Casey Jones”

On Thursday July 18 a service for Roger Awsumb took place in Crosslake, Minnesota. A second memorial service then took place the following day at the Macalester College, Weyerhauser Chapel in St. Paul. As people arrived, family greeted them in the back of the church. An organ quietly played and first noticed was “Casey’s Railroad Jacket and hat”, his ukulele box, and the most often seen portrait of Casey (enlarged) from the 1950’s at the altar area of the church.

The prelude music ended and then the train whistle was heard, as family entered the church. The first song sung by Thelma Neve Johnson was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” followed by a welcome by Marion Rice. Son, Bob Awsumb read the 23rd Psalm, followed by the singing of the Lord’s Prayer by Robert Peterson. Special memories from “Casey’s friends” Ralph Jon Fritz, Jim Barber, Gil Amundson and Al DeRusha were shared with the family and friends who filled the church.

From the stories that were shared, what perhaps struck me most was that Roger Awsumb and Casey Jones were one in the same. And, although Casey Jones had left his television show decades ago, the Casey part of him moved up north with Roger Awsumb and continued to live on, most recently appearing on the Minnesota TV news show Almanac.

Following the remarks, the congregation were lead in the singing of HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Marion Rice then made concluding remarks and presented Roger’s daughter with a single white rose. The Swedish Hymn “How Great Thou Art” was sung and the service ended about 11:55, giving everyone time to rush to Kagin Commons for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, potato chips (Yes Old Dutch), a Hostess Twinkee… and of course there was that healthy apple and glass of milk. After all, Casey had reminded us each day at noon that every growing boy and girl needed their fruit and milk. At the lunch Al DeRusha took a moment to introduce Roundhouse Rodney’s wife and son…. and as everyone chatted and remembered, televisions throughout the room played the Best of Casey Jones Video.

“So Long Gang”

“So Long Casey”

Jack Kennelly

Leave a Reply