The island, and the whole world, lost a woman of great strength and great kindness, on August 13th, when Cassie Gleckler died peacefully at home from cancer at the age of 63.
Cassie was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1957, and spent most of her childhood in northeast Pennsylvania, graduating from Penn State with a BA then went to the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps.
As a young adult she tried a diverse mix of occupations; travel agent, “shooting babies” as a Kmart photographer in a Midwest winter, and doing Social Work by helping Marielitos from Cuba to resettle in rural Pennsylvania. Finally, she found her true calling as a Registered Nurse and met her future husband Jim at her first nursing job in a small hospital in Pennsylvania where he was working as an orderly while in nursing school himself. She had the warmest hands of anyone he had ever met.
They married in 1989 and moved to the Pacific Northwest with Jim’s daughter Sascha from a previous marriage and to Bainbridge Island in 1992.
Cassie loved working at Group Health in the family practice clinic on Capitol Hill before transitioning to the Puget Sound Blood Center (now Bloodworks Northwest) as the Employee Health Nurse and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator; later moving to the Bleeding Disorders Clinic to return to her passion for more direct patient care and opportunities for using her fluency in Spanish. She was also an accomplished Healing Touch Practitioner.
Cass loved riding her bike every day. Many people commented on how she was always smiling as she rode.
She also loved to travel; they rode bikes in Ometepe Nicaragua, Tijuana, Cuba, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Vancouver, Victoria, Hawaii and many other places here and abroad. She was also passionate about social justice.
She and Jim volunteered for No More Deaths in Arizona, Election Protection in Florida and in Ohio, the annual King County Free Clinic, Occupy Seattle and made deep and lasting friendships on Bainbridge and on Ometepe as a result of service with the Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Islands Association (BOSIA).
She was diagnosed with lung cancer in May of 2018 (NSCLC, the non-smokers disease) and received excellent care by the team at SCCA as well as by Fire Dragon acupuncture, Element7 Naturopathy, daily yoga and meditation and a powerfully inspirational devotion to what she called “optimism and denial.” As her dear friend Lynn describes her, she always saw the glass as all the way full. Her final words were “thank you, sweetie.”
She leaves behind her husband, Jim; stepdaughter, Sascha and husband Marc in Berlin; granddaughter, Lola in Nursing School and her fiancé Will in Bristol UK; brother, Kip and his wife Tamara in Arlington; brother, Michael and his wife Suzi in Seattle; and sister, Deb and her husband Larry in Springstead, Wisconsin.
Gathering for celebration of Cass will be sometime in the future. For those who would like to make a donation to honor Cassie, Jim suggests supporting nursing education on Ometepe through the Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association. Checks can be made out to “BOSIA,” with the note “Cassie Gleckler Nursing Scholarship Fund,” and mailed to PO Box 4484, Rolling Bay, WA 98061. Donations can also be made on the bosia.org website via the “donate” button.
Cassie is now riding her bike with a big smile on her face in the Great Mystery; she is just over the next hill, waiting for us.