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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Death of a Mentor!

I learned today that last week, David Cassady, former Director of Education for The Children's Museum of Indianapolis was found murdered in his home, apparently the victim of a murder-suicide involving his wife Ruth.

Rather than go into details, which at this point is extremely difficult for me to do, I post the link to this most awful story.

"Police investigate apparent murder-suicide"

This thing bothers me horribly as I worked with David Cassady for nearly 4 years while I served as Planetarium Educator for SpaceQuest Planetarium at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. For me, David was a mentor and someone for whom I greatly admired and struggled to emulate.

In my early days as Planetarium Educator, it was David Cassady who took me under his wing, so to speak, and guided my learning process, taking me from a scientist/astronomer to one of educator. This was a difficult process which was made much easier thanks exclusively to David Cassady.

When I wanted to build a 1/3 scale replica of Stonehenge for teaching simple machines and Physics; when I wanted to host a public event about astronomy called Celestial Celebration; when I wanted to do outreach for Riley Children's Hospital; when I wanted to create a costumed character named Dr. What? for interacting with kids; when I wanted to change the planetarium logo; when I wanted to expand the museum's web presence with Cosmic Quest, Build-A-Space Station, NASA TV, Liberty Bell 7 Memorial; when I wanted to write & produce any planetarium program about anything; when I wanted to bring in Moon Rocks; when I wanted to do an adaptation of War of the Worlds using only MAP(Museum Apprentice Program) youth; it was David Cassady who said... How much? How long? How can we make it happen?

Never once did he deny me my ideas, no matter how unusual. He embraced my vision and permitted me to not only succeed in many cases, but to even fail once or twice.
He never criticized my efforts but would instruct me gently when things went awry and taught me how to succeed.

From him I learned how to inspire children. From him I learned how to mentor youth. From him I learned how to see past the brick walls of defeatism and reach for the lofty goals. From him I learned that we learn as much from failure as we do from success. From him I learned the value of a childs perspective.

Nearly everyone who worked with David Cassady felt as I do about this amazing individual. I would have gladly set myself on fire and crawled through a mile of broken glass while listening to an endless loop of "Elvira" had he only requested it. Such was my admiration and devotion to someone for whom I consider a critical mentor in my life.

I would not be the educator I am today were it not for David Cassady.

I won't pretend or claim to understand what happened that night; what drove Ruth to do what she did; how they came to be so desperate that this seemed their only option.

I only know that someone I cared about, someone I admired, someone I respected is no longer a member of this mortal coil.

I will miss his laugh...

James C. Wallace II

1 comment:

  1. David was no victim. In fact, Ruth was the victim. He wanted to die for years and convinced her to die with him.