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Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home

199 Woodford Street, Portland, ME

OBITUARY

Toni Marie Cassidy

February 4, 1953August 7, 2019

Toni M. Cassidy 1953-2019

SCARBOROUGH - Toni (Corriveau) Cassidy, 66, of Buxton, passed away peacefully at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House on August 7, 2019. She was born in Van Buren, Maine, on February 4, 1953, to her loving parents, the late Leo J. Corriveau and the late Beatrice Desjardins Corriveau. The path of Toni’s life was forever changed by the accident in which she lost her right leg at the age of ten. It happened during a heavy windstorm on a bright sunny day in late November of 1963, in the week following JFK’s assassination. Toni remembered floating above the pine trees over the scene of the accident, hearing people yelling and seeing them moving the tree that had fallen on her. As she watched, she had to decide whether to stay or to go and she said “I was ten years old; I was too young to leave so I stayed.” Her family, friends and students will be forever grateful that she made that decision. To save her life and with special permission from Strategic Air Command in Nebraska, she was flown with her father from Loring Air Force Base on a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker to Boston where she spent months in recovery at Mass General. She laughed recently telling the story of how she and another child would try and hide in the closet when they knew the tutor was coming, which was not exactly an easy thing to do since she was in a wheelchair. Toni graduated from Van Buren High School, attended the Maine School of Art in Portland and the University of Maine at Farmington, including a semester at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Art. She began her teaching career as a substitute teacher in Portland before spending one year teaching kindergarten at Reiche School. The following year she moved to Hall School where she taught kindergarten for 37 years until March of this year. It is estimated that over 760 Portland children had the privilege of having her as a teacher. She created the Art Club at Hall School where she instilled the love of art to an additional 200 students from kindergarten through 5th grade. This club allowed her to remain in touch with her students as they got older. She was a dedicated and loving teacher who enjoyed getting hugs from her students and was well respected by her colleagues. She was renowned at school for her whimsical gingerbread men ornaments, her delicious homemade popcorn and her incredible collection of books. She loved the teachers and staff at Hall School (now Amanda C. Rowe School) and cherished their friendships. Toni was incredibly independent, strong and determined and never considered herself handicapped. She even studied karate in the late 1970s and early 80s, attaining the level of brown belt, and learned how to use her crutches for self defense. In the mid-1980s, she spent her summers as the Chief Purser for Longfellow Cruise Line on Long Wharf in Portland. On occasion, a rude tourist would blurt out “What happened to your leg?” and she would quip, “A shark got me!” before finally telling them she had been in an accident as a child. Two of the happiest days of Toni’s life were when her son, Ryan, was born in 1989, and when her grandson, Mason, was born in 2017. She loved them unconditionally and was so very proud of both of them. Her eyes always sparkled when they came to visit her in the hospital and at the hospice house. In the summers of Ryan’s childhood, they made wonderful memories at Acres of Wildlife in Standish where Toni and Ryan raced around in her golf cart. In her final days, Toni never lost her sense of humor and she even insisted on having her toenails and fingernails painted purple. She also browsed Amazon with Ryan and told him what gifts she wanted him to buy Mason for future holidays and birthdays. She received more visitors at Gosnell than they could count and was surrounded by family and friends who reminded her how much she was loved. She enriched the lives of everyone who met her with her compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, humor and wisdom and she will be greatly missed. Toni is survived by her son, Ryan Cassidy of Buxton, grandson, Mason, and Ryan’s father, George Cassidy of Freeport. She is also survived by her stepmother, Maxima André Corriveau of Saco and her five siblings, Kerry (Corriveau) Sullivan and her husband, Gary, of Raymond; David Corriveau and his wife, Elaine, of Windham; Mark Corriveau and his wife, Pauline, of Buxton; Michelle (Corriveau) Powell and her husband, Glenn, of Scarborough; and Scot Corriveau of Land O’Lakes, Florida. She is also survived by her nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews: Toni Sullivan Bailey, her husband, Steve, and their children Zach and Denali; Benjamin Corriveau, his wife Jessica and their children Beau and Josie; Adam Corriveau, Laura Powell, and Jack Corriveau. She is also survived by a handful of aunts and uncles, numerous cousins and by her two best friends, Sandy Sherry and Linda Leavis-Colson. Toni’s family would like to extend a special thank you to the exceptional doctors and nurses of both Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center and to the wonderful and caring staff of the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Toni’s memory to: Pine Tree Society www.pinetreesociety.org 149 Front St. Bath, ME 04530 or Gosnell Memorial Hospice House 11 Hunnewell Rd. Scarborough, ME 04074

Services

  • Memorial Visitation Saturday, August 17, 2019
  • Sharing Memories Saturday, August 17, 2019

Memories

Toni Marie Cassidy

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Byrd - Jan Beaulieu - Nolet

August 16, 2019

She asked me to come over that day but Mom said no because of the storm. That day and many more to follow were devastating because of that accident. I’m thrilled that she had a son and grandson and that she was able to touch so many lives with her teaching skills and loving, kind and caring attitude. It sounds like she had a full and happy life in spite of the bad cards she was dealt. My sincere sympathies to all family and friends.
Byrd Beaulieu / Jan Nolet

Kate Cass (f/Squire)

August 16, 2019

To Toni’s family, and family of friends, I am sending you love and wishing you peace and comfort as you celebrate her life. I had the good fortune of being Toni’s student teacher and later Kindergarten colleague at Hall School. When I think about the kind of classroom I want to create, I think about Toni. She made Kindergarten the colorful, magical and playful place it should be. She will be missed far and wide. I am so grateful to have known her. With love, Kate Cass

Lori Caldarone

August 15, 2019

Kerri , what a beautiful tribute . Her lessons went far beyond the classroom . She lived such a meaningful life leaving so much of herself behind in her students and all who knew her . Your memories , sharing the essence of who she was teaches us all how to live and her death teaches us what really matters in the end . It is heartbreaking to know she suffered , even her angels must have cried as they waited to take her home . her last breath here was her first breath whole , free of pain and in the presence of God .
Love
Cousin Lori

MarthaGross Grosssfsp

August 15, 2019

To Toni's family, special prayers and heartfelt condolences.
She was a loving caring educator who always ,put the children first!
I loved going into her classroom,reading her morning message with her cute illustrations .
I am blessed to have known her.
To Live in Hearts we Leave Behind is not to Die.
She will forever be in your hearts.

Joe Murphy

August 15, 2019

Toni was always a caring kind figure that helped me become the person I am now. She was my teacher in kindergarten where she taught us about how to treat each other which helped me make lifelong friends in her classroom. Even after I left her class, her dedication to the school and the kids that attended it was undeniable. Her facilitation of the art club after school was just one of many examples of her using her own time to enrich the lives of children. As the years passed, many things had changed about the school but, going to Mrs. Cassidy’s classroom brought back memories from kindergarten which couldn’t be made with any other teacher. Considering how much of a bright person she was as a teacher, I cannot imagine what family members of Toni may be going though. So I extend my condolences to her family and friends.

Kerry Sullivan

August 14, 2019

Part 3

Toni always thought of others before herself. Last Saturday when she made the decision to no longer have chemo and dialysis treatments – she worried about how her family would take it. She kept apologizing for giving up; we all told her we were fine we didn’t what her to suffer any more. She seemed to relax as if a big load was removed.

From what I’ve written, I hope you realize how she will be missed by many people. She was selfless, generous, independent, gentle and kind. Toni had a great sense of humor, the Corriveau/Desjardins stubbornness and handled all hardships with courage and strength.

Most of all, Toni was the BEST SISTER anyone could have. I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU.



Kerry Sullivan

August 14, 2019

Part 2
I remember when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher, Toni said “who wants to be a teacher, I will never be a teacher”. As it turned out, it was a joke we shared because she became a teacher and I never did. Toni attended art school; Maine School of Art in Portland, Maine. She also went to University of Maine at Farmington where she received her degree in Elementary Education. She studied at the University of New Mexico for one semester, while there, her only form of transportation was a bicycle adapted with a strap on one pedal and a weight on the other so she could pedal. She zoomed everywhere – sightseeing, going to classes, errands. When she returned from New Mexico, she said “I couldn’t believe my eyes from the airplane – everything is so green”.

She taught in the Portland schools first as substitute teacher and then at Reiche and Hall Schools for 38 years as a kindergarten teacher. She influenced and had an impact on over 750 kindergarten students. Toni also taught an art group where she instilled hundreds of students with the love of art. Toni was described by many as a well-loved teacher who brought out the best in her students. Teaching was a very important part of her life.

Her family and friends were the other part of her life that she enjoyed to the fullest. Due to her internal injuries when the tree fell on her she had a hard pregnancy another hardship, but it was worth it because her much loved son, Ryan was born in May of 1989.

She looked forward to family gatherings, camping for the summer with her son, Ryan at Acres of Wildlife in Standish, as well as going to dinner and movie with friends and family. Toni and I would get together frequently for lunch. We both looked forward to those lunches. The last couple of years, she spent all the time she could with her grandson, Mason. Cont to Part 3

Kerry Sullivan

August 14, 2019

On August 7, 2019; my amazing sister, Toni, left this earth to join many loved relatives in Heaven. They will be there to show her “the ropes”. She had many obstacles to overcome in her short life. She overcame all those obstacles with grace, a unique sense of humor, strength and dignity to the very last obstacle, Multiple Myeloma.

We lost our mother when Toni was six from a cerebral hemorrhage. When she was 10, during a hurricane, a tree fell on her. To save her life, she was life flighted from Loring Air Force Base in a tanker as that was the only plane that was allowed to fly in the hurricane. She was at Massachusetts General for months, suffering from internal injuries and she eventually lost her leg above the knee.

Toni never saw herself as handicapped. Since she could not wear a prothesis due to the damage done to her hip and the remaining stump, she learned to get around with crutches. She could keep up with anyone on 2 legs. Toni earned a brown belt in Karate, learning to use her crutches defensively.

Toni gave me the best present ever. It was because of her that I met my soulmate, Gary. When I was at St. Joseph’s College, she was going to boarding school in Biddeford, since she was 6+ hours from home I would take her for many weekends and bring her to St. Joseph’s. One of those weekends, the vehicle I used was being serviced. I had no way of getting her back to boarding school, so we hitchhiked. Gary and his best friend Al picked us up and took us all the way to her school and brought me back. Many months later he came to an open dance at St. Josephs. Where we recognized each other and danced together all night. We went out for a week and half got engaged and married a month later. THANK YOU ---TONI!!!

One of the memories which made both of us laugh, was my first summer of marriage. She had come for a visit and could make it up and down the 2 flights of stairs faster than Gary and I could.

Cont. as new memory

Hans Olsen

August 13, 2019

To Aunt Max, my cousins and Ryan. Deeply saddened for your loss. I don't know if it was just a coincidence but the Friday morning before Toni passed she was heavily on my mind. As you probably all know I've been doing tree work for the last 40 years and on that morning I had to remove a large oak tree that had fallen on a house and car. This tree was what we call spring loaded and very dangerous to work on. I found myself being extremely cautious. At lunch I told the guys I was working with what happened to my cousin when she was just a little girl and that we should not take for granted how easily we can be hurt. Followed that up by telling them what a beautiful person my cousin was. A coincidence maybe but I'd rather believe that while Toni was drifting between here and heaven she was letting me know to stay safe. Miss all of you. Thoughts and prayers. Hans

Connie Ortolani

August 13, 2019

My thoughts are with Toni's family and friends. I was a teacher at Hall School and just remember how much joy she brought to everyone and she will be truly missed but the memories of her laughter and smiling face will live on forever!
With loving thoughts,
Connie

FROM THE FAMILY