EASTON — Hundreds of broken hearted community members gathered in holy convocation on Sunday evening to remember the life and give thanks for the legacy of John Joseph Cassidy.
The 72-year-old Easton man died on Thursday morning, June 6, after being severely injured in the men’s locker room at the YMCA by a robber with a knife, Easton Police said.
The YMCA hosted a community candlelight vigil in honor of Cassidy and his family on the front steps of the Easton Family YMCA on Peachblossom Road. Cassidy’s wife, Doralice Cassidy, daughter Lynette Cassidy of Baltimore and son John Daniel Cassidy of Portugal attended the vigil.
Presiding over the vigil was Rabbi Peter Hyman from Temple B’nai Israel, Rev. William T. Wallace from Union United Methodist Church and Father James Nash from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. Pastor Craig Fadel of Bay Area Community Church in Easton offered the benediction. All community members were invited to attend.
John Cassidy was "brilliant in his judgment. I never knew him, or saw him, to get mad or raise his voice. He was a steady thinker," said David Nagel, Nagel's Farm Service owner. "He was one of the most unusual business men I’ve ever worked with. He had such clarity and such vision. He could bring things together and make them happen."
Rabbi Peter Hyman prayed that the Lord send a measure of comfort and strength to Cassidy’s family, “who must now confront the cruel reality of life void of his being.”
“To those who stood witness to this tragic moment, strengthen them, support them and ease their pain,” Hyman said. “Let our fears give way to hope, let our cries give way to laughter...”
Corey Pack, Talbot County Council president, compared the tragedy to a stone smashing into a tranquil lake.
“At the epicenter, the Cassidy family feels the sharpness of the impact. It drives deep into their soul, it’s like a dream they cannot awaken from,” Pack said. “And also for the family of the accused, the horror and the shock that a family member would commit such a horrific act. To them as well, it’s unbelievable.”
“As that wake moves from the epicenter to those Y staff who were here and had to witness the carnage and the trauma and the impact that it plays on their life, they feel it.”
“To the paramedics and the police officers who responded, although they are well trained, they are also human. The horror of that scene cuts them as well.”
“The community at large, we feel it and it hurts.”
Pack said the community shall rebound and rebuild in faith and love.
“The depth of this crowd makes a profound statement about how united we are,” Hyman said.
Father James Nash said he heard many people express fear in the aftermath of tragedy at the Easton Family YMCA.
“We are not going to allow that fear to control us as a community. We are not going to allow the darkness to envelop that light that is this community,” Nash said. “Sometimes we have to be that voice crying out in the darkness that brings light to a very, very difficult and dark situation.”
He urged audience members to remind their loved ones how much they love and care for them; “unfortunately it’s just a part of life that we take each other for granted.”
“I can tell you that woman standing there in that purple coat would give everything she has to see that man once again,” he said, looking to Doralice Cassidy.
Rachel Pletz and Sarah Wieduwilt performed “Amazing Grace” on the steps outside of the Y.
Rev. William T. Wallace said to “never give up on God, he is only a whisper, a prayer away.”
“We pause to remember John Cassidy, a beloved member of this community,” said Pastor Craig Fadel. “We pray for his wife and children. We ask for a special measure of grace and comfort for all of them.”
“The message conveyed tonight is definitely something that each and every one of us attendees can employ mentally and emotionally as we move forward from such a tragic event that took place in such a peaceful and nurturing environment,” said Lonnelle Green, Fade2black Barbershop owner and Easton YMCA member.
“...For as long as I can remember, Easton Family YMCA has been a safe haven for our community. Tonight our community joined hands. I hope tomorrow we will uplift each other,” Green said.
Easton Family YMCA will open with regular hours on Monday, June 10 at 4:45 a.m.