Toni Casciato Remembered And Honored


Last updated 9/30/2020 at 4:12pm

Army veterans and members of the Transylvania County Honor Guard SFC Jim Kirby (left) and MSG Ray McCall.

Alexander Graham Bell once noted: "When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the one that has opened for us."

On May 17, 2020, a door closed abruptly on the life of Toni Lee Casciato, beloved wife of Emmett Casciato, founder and curator of the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas. For Toni's family, the process of mourning was exacerbated by the coronavirus which prevented a church service and supportive group gatherings.

However, as the Casciato family and friends came to grips with their loss, another door opened wide. Donations to the museum in Toni's memory enabled the organization's Board of Directors to establish the Toni Lee Casciato (TLC) Memorial Fund for the benefit of veterans' causes embraced by its namesake.

"The outpouring for our museum in her name was unbelievable," said Emmett Casciato.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, museum directors recognized four local veterans' organizations as the Veterans History Museum sponsored its first gathering since 2019. Under a canopy on the lawn of the county courthouse, Toni's picture greeted an audience of TLC Fund donors, city and county officials, museum board members, and volunteers.

The recipients of support from the fund were: Jeff Miller and the Blue Ridge Honor Flight; the Transylvania County Honor Guard, represented by Commander Howard Thiele; the American Legion, Monroe Wilson Post 88, represented by Vice-Commander Frank Duckworth; and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 4309, represented by Commander John Rogers. Each honoree received a check and a framed certificate of appreciation, signed by Emmett and his daughter, Abby Moore, who is a member of the museum's advisory committee.

After leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, Casciato introduced the ceremony with recollections of his wife's commitment to the museum and its mission.

"She was a true patriot," he said. "She loved our country and our veterans and was behind the scenes on everything that happened at the museum."

The fund's recipients expressed their gratitude for the museum's support. Rogers offered Casciato heartfelt thanks on behalf of the VFW, while Duckworth noted that the American Legion is proud and happy to support the museum which is "the most wonderful honor for veterans that's happened in Transylvania County and Brevard in quite some time."

"Seeing everyone gathered here warms my heart," said Thiele. "I was privileged to know Toni. She will be missed and remembered by every one of us because she touched so many lives. She will never be forgotten."

After accepting his gift, Miller asked for a "big round of applause" for the veterans in the audience.

"Thanks to each of you," he said. "I'm humbled to be surrounded by people who have given so much. I never served my country, but I'm dedicated to serving those who have. Honor flights pay tribute to veterans. We want to assure that people remember the things given to them by folks like you and to make sure our veterans are not forgotten. They're never gone, and Toni is never gone."

As the ceremony concluded on this overcast morning, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds and illuminated the photograph of Toni Casciato.

"The sun is out. Toni's smiling down on us," her husband said.

Her legacy will continue to open doors.

Representatives from organizations honored by the Veterans History Museum's TLC Fund are, from left to right, Frank Duckworth, John Rogers, Howard Thiele and Jeff Miller. (Courtesy photos)


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