March 9, 1924-Jan. 24, 2024
Portola Valley, California
Submitted by Randy Cassingham
Marge Cassingham, a 55-year resident of Portola Valley, died January 24, a few weeks before she would have turned 100. A gifted musician and classical pianist for 90 years, Marge was active in the Palo Alto Two Piano Club; her living room in Ladera was a favored place to practice as it had plenty of room for its two Steinway grand pianos.
In Los Angeles, she was a member of the Sigma Alpha Iota women’s music fraternity from 1942 to her death, and a member of the American Association of University Women after earning her degree in music from Occidental College. Marge “received just about every award that SAI gives,” SAI’s executive director said. She was a secretary at Bendix Aviation, and helped charter a nursery school at her church.
After having four children in southern California (Carol Swanson of Oregon, Curt Ryan Cassingham (and wife Bonnie Meeder) of Oregon, Brian Cassingham (Anne) of Florida, and Randy Cassingham (Kit) who travel internationally full time), Marge and her husband Larry moved to Portola Valley. She continued her outside work as a project secretary for Syntex Laboratories, then the office administrator for a Silicon Valley consultancy. Her children and her music were her main focus, including at Menlo Park Presbyterian in the 1970s, and in the 80s on at Valley Presbyterian in Portola Valley, where she played piano and handbells, served as interim choir director, and was a long-serving elder. She retired to the Sequoias — taking her favorite Steinway with her so she could stay active in music for most of her time there.
She always maintained her sense of humor. A few months before her death as she was closing on 100 years old, a friend at the Sequoias told her, “It’s my birthday today: I’m 82.” Marge considered that for a moment and replied in a clear voice, “Am I supposed to be impressed by that?”
She is survived by her four children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Tags: arts/media, public service