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Bench to Memorialize Dedicated Leominster Fan

January 19, 2019
Joe Caissey, nicknamed Mr. Leominster, died Jan. 8 at the age of 63. He was known as a dedicated fan of the high school's sports teams and often came to games at Doyle Field. COURTESY OF JACK CELLI Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Mina Corpuz

mcorpuz@sentinelandenterprise.com

LEOMINSTER -- Generations of student athletes and residents knew Joe Caissey as Mr. Leominster, one of the biggest fans of the high school’s sports teams and a familiar face at games.

To honor Caissey, who died Jan. 8 at the age of 63, family, friends, and members of the community have rallied together to raise money for a memorial bench at Doyle Field.

“He deserves this for being the loyal fan he was,” said Robert Sarao, who attended Leominster High School with Caissey in the 70s and remained friends with him over the years.

Sarao teamed up with another friend, Jack Celli, to set up a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 for the bench. By Thursday, people contributed about $4,500 to the fund.

In lieu of flowers, his family is asking for donations to be made to the fund.

“We want to find a new place (for the bench) where you can sit, enjoy, and watch the game,” Sarao said.

Caissey was born in Leominster and lived in the city until moving to Gardner in 2016.

He was a parishoner at St. Leo Catholic Church in Leominster, where his funeral Mass was to be held on Saturday. The burial will be at a later date.

In addition to placing a memorial bench at Doyle Field, they are planning to set up a scholarship fund in Caissey’s name, Sarao said.

Extra money from the fundraiser can be used to get the scholarship started, he said, and it will probably go to a student at the high school who is a sports fan like Caissey.

Sarao and Celli are also looking to honor Caissey by having him inducted into the high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mayor Dean Mazzarella, who grew up with Caissey, remembered him as someone who was well-known in the community.

“There will never be another Joe Caissey,” he said. “For every person that knew Joe, there were a thousand stories.”

Mazzarella recalled years ago when a local officer paid for Caissey to undergo surgery to repair an eye defect.

On Friday, he asked members of the community to wear blue in honor of Caisse. Mazzarella said people sent him messages and pictures of their blue attire, including some who no longer live in Leominster.

Leominster Athletic Director Dave Palazzi recalled memories of Caissey cheering on the field and coming to the locker rooms from when he played football for Leominster High in the 1980s.

It’s sad to see someone like Caissey pass because he’s been part of the team and Leominster’s history, Palazzi said.

“As a coach and now as an athletic director, that’s something that we’re trying to build: a passion for sports that Joe had,” he said.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

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