Friends and former co-workers remember Capt. Jennifer Casey as an inspirational person with a smile that lit up a room and an infectious personality.
Casey, the public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatics team, died when one of the jets crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C.
She was a Halifax native and graduated from Dalhousie University before studying journalism at the University of King's College. She formerly worked with News 95.7 in a variety of roles, including as producer with the Rick Howe Show and John Moore's Halifax Mooseheads play-by-play broadcasts.
She joined the military in 2014 and took on the role with the Snowbirds in 2018.
“She was just a positive light, brought joy to the newsroom every day and just an infectious personality.” - Scott MacIntosh
On Monday, Scott MacIntosh, who worked with Casey at News 95.7 before moving on to become the media relations and communications manager with the Halifax Mooseheads, said everybody loved her.
“Everybody wanted to be around her,” MacIntosh said. “She was just a positive light, brought joy to the newsroom every day, and just an infectious personality.”
Howe echoed that sentiment, adding that in addition to being a “very nice individual,” she was also a hard worker who was keen to get things done, pursue ideas and research stories.
“She always had that smile on her face,” Howe said. “I'll always remember that smile that she had. On any gloomy day, she raised things for everybody.”
Howe said Casey was with him when News 95.7 created the afternoon talk show and they had to figure out how they were going to do it, what the approach would be and who would be the guests.
“In fact, even though many of the guests never met her, I've been getting a number of emails over the course of the last day from people who were guests, who just remembered how energetic and how friendly and how engaging she was with them, in procuring them for the interview with me. And you can't find people like that.”
MacIntosh said he and Casey were close during his eight years as sports director at News 95.7.
“To me, she was just such a … glowing light,” he said. “Everybody wanted to be around her because she was such a fun individual. She was inclusive and just had a special talent to make everybody feel uniquely special to her, I guess. She had so many friends, but she would make you feel like you were the only one in the room, and was just a really incredible person.”
He said she was an avid fan of the Montreal Canadiens and in 2007 travelled to Europe to watch the world juniors. In that tournament, current Habs goaltender Carey Price backstopped Team Canada to gold, and she cheered from just behind the glass during a pivotal match against the U.S. in which Price earned a shootout victory and Jonathan Toews, who went on to star with the Chicago Blackhawks, scored three shootout goals for Canada.
“When I think of Jenn, I think she was the ultimate Canadian,” MacIntosh said. “She loved her hockey, loved the Montreal Canadiens, loved the Mooseheads, she loved the Tragically Hip, and I think it would be fitting if we all kind of raised our glass to her at some point this week and turned on a Tragically Hip song or something and cranked it up for her. When I think of her, she was just a strong person that was determined to get what she wanted and was always able to do so because she was such a brilliant person, and I'll always think of her as just the perfect Canadian.”
MacIntosh said he thinks she had found her passion with the Snowbirds. She was with the squad when they began their series of national flyovers in an effort to raise spirits in communities across Canada during this spring of social distancing and tragic deaths.
Stephen Kimber, a journalism professor at King's, said he vividly remembers Casey's “infectious” laugh.
He said she first studied there in 2008-2009 in the one-year bachelor of journalism program but left early because she was offered a job at 95.7. She was just one course short and returned to finish the degree two years later while also working full time. They continued to connect through work after that.
“I would have contact with her because I was regularly on the Rick Howe Show talking about one thing or another, but she was a producer, so she would call before the interview just to set it up and get things going,” Kimber recalled. “And we would have these short little conversations, and, again, she was such a widely interesting, fun person to talk to.
“I have taught there for more than 35 years and so you see a lot of students, but there are students who really do leave you with an impression. She was certainly one of those.”
This is the accomplished and top of her field @_jenncasey — lost tragically today in the @CFSnowbirds. 🇨🇦 sends all love and condolences to her family and friends. #Snowbirds #JennCasey pic.twitter.com/yJgR0r1wqK— Jody Vance (@jodyvance) May 18, 2020
Howe said there is a photo on the Halifax Today website on the story of her tragic death that he continues to think about.
“It's a photo taken long ago, when she was a producer, and it's her in the control room,” Howe said. “You can see me in the other studio in the background, but she's in front of the computer setup – the brains of the radio station – and she's looking at the camera and she's got this huge smile on her face. And that's how I'll remember Jennifer - that big smile.
“My condolences to her family and friends. She has many, many friends here in Halifax. A lot of people are going to miss her.”
A military public affairs officer said Monday that Casey's family was not yet ready to speak about their loss.
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