Anna Jirgens Casey, age 79, died on April 21, 2017, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland, OR, of natural causes, with members of her family at her bedside.
Anna was born on January 3, 1938 in Riga, Latvia. In 1945, when she was 7, her family was split and forced to leave her native country due to its occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II, and then later by the Soviet Union. After the war, her family was reunited and she spent years in DP camps in northern Germany. In 1949, she and her refugee family immigrated to America. They arrived in Martinsville, VA during that summer with two suitcases and $20 in their pocket. Her father, once a successful store manager in Latvia, was able to find work on the assembly line at Bassett Furniture in Martinsville. Being the only one in her family who could speak English, at age 11, she was the family spokesperson for all business matters.
Anna graduated from Martinsville High School in 1956. She was a nearly straight-A student, graduating as the class salutatorian, while also working at a five-and-dime store to help make ends meet for her family. She placed third at the State of Virginia high school spelling bee. She went on to earn a pharmacy degree in 1960 from George Washington University in Washington DC, with honors, and was the only woman in her pharmacy class.
After marrying John Casey, a pharmacist she met at a Bethesda, MD drug store, in 1961, she helped raise two sons and spent 38 years as a pharmacist. She was truly one of the pioneers for women working in retail pharmacy, as, at that time, most women pharmacists were relegated to working in hospitals. She retired from Fred Meyer Pharmacy in Portland, OR (Raleigh Hills), after working there for 25 years, in 1998.
She is survived by her husband, John Casey, of Portland, her sons John Casey Jr (wife Stephanie) of Sherwood, OR, and Paul Casey of Mesquite, TX, and three granddaughters, Madeline, Christina, and Maija Casey, all of Sherwood, OR. Anna and John shared 56 blissful years of marriage together.
Anna had a very gregarious nature and would start many long conversations with complete strangers. She was warm and friendly with everyone she met, whether it was a nurse, a desk clerk, a waiter, or even the Queen of the Netherlands, whom she once met. With her encyclopedic knowledge and her great memory, she was able to find common events or places visited with most people. She loved reading, playing word games with her family, finishing the daily crossword, traveling, and the outdoors: gardening, camping, and hiking. She especially loved spending time at her beach house at Manzanita on the Oregon Coast. She was very proud of her Latvian heritage and attended many events at the local Latvian church. She was able to return to Latvia and visit long lost friends and relatives after her retirement.
She will be remembered for her kindness, compassion, making and keeping many friendships, and her zest for life.