POINT PLEASANT — Attorneys and journalists often get the same reaction from the public (this can sometimes be both a good and bad thing) and as such, I had a lot in common with a recent attorney who passed away, not only on the surface but just past the surface where the truth lives and memories dwell.
I decided there was really no point to writing in the typically distant and unbiased Associated Press Style when it came to writing about Attorney Barry L. Casto who suddenly passed away last week; about his colleagues who honored him in Mason County Circuit Court on Wednesday. So with what I’m sure would be Barry’s blessing, I am rebelling against the norm and writing this in the way I see fit, not the way the rules says I should.
You see, Barry was the first adult I came to know outside my immediate family. He went to school with my parents, and I attended Barry’s wedding to his wife Pam in a highchair, though Pam remembers this far better than I do. There were family vacations with Barry and Pam, and Barry was always at our house, watching television with my dad or trying to teach my mom how to cook, unsuccessfully. Last week, as I sat in my living room, a place where Barry had been at least 8,000 times, I felt both disoriented and honored to be typing his obituary.
I have no doubt Barry’s family was honored on Wednesday when members of Mason County Circuit Court, Magistrate Court, Family Court, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Mason County Bar Association and employees from every conceivable office in the courthouse, showed up in the third floor courtroom to see his name added to a plaque of local attorneys who have since passed away — including Barry’s father, Carroll W. Casto.
Circuit Court Judge David Nibert led Wednesday’s presentation, saying one thing he noticed early on about Barry was that he had no desire to take on criminal cases, instead he preferred cases involving juveniles. Nibert said Barry had extended the care he showed his own children in ways that impacted other families in Mason County via his work with the court. Nibert also noted Barry’s work on the Mental Hygiene Commission and how his colleague had noticed he always treated everyone with the “utmost respect” no matter their circumstance in life.
After Nibert offered his condolences on behalf of everyone in the courtroom, Barry’s wife Pam spoke briefly, thanking everyone for their encouragement and offers of help, saying it showed the best spirit of the community. Pam also thanked those in attendance for sharing their stories of Barry which will help keep his memory alive.
As I said, the truth always lies just below the surface of things. The truth was, Barry would never profess to be perfect or want to be made into anything he wasn’t in life, in death. He was a complicated mix of life and energy and fishing poles, and he was a man, who when my mom was dying from cancer, made time to call her every day. The beauty of the phone calls were not that he was checking on a dying woman but that he was checking in with a friend who needed to be reminded some things never change — like Barry.
Since Barry passed last week, I was reminded of a tribute he wrote about my mom when she died back in 1998. At that point, they had been friends since the seventh grade. He closed his tribute in a simple, elegant way which I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing now as I close out this tribute to him — in fact, I’m sure he’d love having the last word.
“I don’t feel that Janie has left us, because she will be with us in our memories. And when none of us are left to remember anymore, that’s all right as well, because then we’ll all be reunited.”