Surrounded by her loving family, Vi Casalegno passed away peacefully at home on October 16, 2018 after a brief illness. She was 95 years old. Vi was born in Lodi, CA to Emanuel and Katherina Handel and was the youngest of 10 children. She grew up in a German farming family where hard work and patience helped shape her life for years to come. After graduating from high school, she moved to Santa Cruz in 1945 and began working as a secretary at Baike and Alcantara, a stock and bond company. Vi rented a room in a home near Mission Street where she met her roommate and future sister-in-law, Loretta Casalegno. It was Loretta who introduced Vi to her “playful” Italian brother Bill. Vi and Bill’s romance began with a date to a Halloween party that foretold a life filled with fun, laughter, family, and friends. They were married on July 11, 1954 and settled in Santa Cruz. After the birth of their first child, Vi and Bill built their home on the Casalegno homestead in Soquel. There they raised four daughters and ran the family farm, along with Bill’s excavating business.
Vi was a warm and loving person with a gift for finding joy in everyday life. Summers were spent picking plums, pears and apples to either ship or sell at the farm. Vi was one of the earliest vendors at the local farmers markets, selling fruits and vegetables into her 80’s. She won many awards at the county fair for her creative apple entries and displays. Having grown up during the depression, nothing went to waste; she liked canning and baking, filling her home with the aromas of love. Though she was of German heritage, she quickly embraced her Italian in-laws and learned to make raviolis, gnocchi, cioppino, and bagna cauda. She passed these family traditions along to her daughters and grandchildren. She loved gardening, flower arranging and animals - there was never a time without a dog or cat around the farm. She was an avid S.F. Giants baseball fan who loved watching their games. But most of all, Vi loved being with her family, and her family loved being with her. She will always be remembered for her infectious smile, the twinkle in her eyes and her welcoming nature.
Vi was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Edwin, Gideon Godfrey, Gideon Benjamin, Emil and Leon, and sisters Rex, Mathilda, and Lenore. She is survived by her husband of 64 years Bill, her sister Ida Hentschel, daughters Jane Kotila (Rick), Cathy Casalegno (Margaret Theisen), Jeanne Viglienzoni (Dave), and Angela Chandler (Richard); grandchildren Matt (Marissa), Nate (Arwen), Jake (Monica), Joe, Catherine, Krista and Sean (Karen); and great grandchildren Wyatt, Creedance, and Astrid, and a large extended family. Vi was a longtime member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. A vigil will be held at Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga Street, Santa Cruz on Thursday November 1st at 8 pm followed by a service at St. Joseph’s, 435 Monterey Avenue, Capitola, on Friday November 2nd at 1 pm. The service will be followed by a reception/luncheon for family and friends. In lieu of flowers and in memory of Vi please call, visit or send a note to someone you love or someone in need. Memorial contributions in Vi’s name may be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz County: 940 Disc Drive Scotts Valley, CA 95066 or the charity of your choice.