Vestavia Hills Living


Official magazine published by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce for the City of Vestavia Hills which details the quality of life, education, shopping and lifestyle of Vestavia Hills.

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Page 63 of 136

I As the city grew and developed, the Caseys played an active role in their community. This year, as Joanne Casey celebrates her 99th birthday, she continues her involvement in the life of the city, as a regular at the New Merkel House, where she enjoys aerobics, lunches and bingo with other seniors several days a week. C O N N E C T I N G W I T H T H E C O M M U N I T Y In the early 1950s, Vestavia Hills was a brand-new city and families like the Caseys were instrumental in laying the foundation for a thriving community. Joanne Casey and her husband were founding members of the Vestavia Country Club and founding members of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, which originally met in Vestavia Temple, the Roman-inspired 1920s home of George Ward, a former mayor of Birmingham and founder of Vestavia Hills. Dr. Casey led the committee to launch the new church, and Mrs. Casey volunteered in the church nursery for many years. The Caseys raised their son, Paul, in Vestavia Hills, a community that even then offered a scenic, secure, family- focused backdrop. "I went to Sunday school at the Baptist church in the Roman temple," says Paul Casey, an architect in California. "And my parents were very comfortable allowing me to walk to Vestavia Hills Elementary, when there was just one elementary school, even as a first grader." B L A Z I N G A P R O F E S S I O N A L P A T H Before marrying and moving to Vestavia Hills, Joanne Casey earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Howard College, now Samford University. It was the culmination of an educational career in which she had stretched and challenged herself in ways uncommon for girls at the time. As a student at Woodlawn High School, for instance, Mrs. Casey signed up to take a drafting course, but was told that girls were not allowed to take the course. "Her father was a stone mason, and so she'd been exposed to drawings and the building trades, and was interested in it," Paul Casey says. "But her mother had to go to the Birming- when Joanne Casey and her husband, the late Dr. Albert E. I moved into a home on Southwood Road, they were at the I the street. I Today, the road continues beyond the Casey home as far as the eye can see, neighborhoods that have grown and developed over the years, along with the city of Vestavia Hills. I ham Board of Education and get special permission for her to take the course. When I went into architecture years later, she still had her compasses and instruments from that high school drafting course and gave them to me." After completing a degree in biology, Mrs. Casey worked for years at the old Highland Avenue Baptist Hospital in the pathology lab and later in the research laboratory founded by her husband. Together, she and her husband presented research papers at medical conferences around the world. In 1955, Mrs. Casey scraped the bottom of a doctor's shoe upon his exit from an operating room and studied what she found in a petri dish. "Of course, the shoe was covered with horrible, infectious microbes," Casey says. Operating room staff were already wearing sterile gowns but no one had thought about the potential infection from street shoes. She presented her research at a medical conference in St. Louis in 1956, and her findings led to the development of disposable booties that medical professionals continue to wear over their shoes when entering operating rooms. "At the time, doctors knew to wash their hands thoroughly and wear sterilized gowns, but nobody had thought about the germs they were carrying around on the bottom of their shoes," Paul Casey says. S T A Y I N G A C T I V E After a long career in bacteriology and traveling the world with her husband, Casey has continued to live a full life in Vestavia Hills. A talented amateur artist, the walls of her home are adorned with her own paintings. She continues to visit with friends three times per week at the New Merkel House. And she has been taking a senior aerobics class at Shades Mountain Baptist Church since she was 71 years old—almost 30 years. "Staying active, especially working on balance and strength in her aerobics class, is one of the things that has kept her going for so long," Casey says. And Mrs. Casey's bright smile and longtime commitment to her community has kept Vestavia Hills shining a little brighter for all these years, says Melanie Perry, manager of the New Merkel House. 2 0 1 8 v e s tav i a h i l l s l i v i n g 57

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