Charlotte Agnes Casserly, a family matriarch who was active in numerous Roman Catholic groups, died of complications from dementia Monday at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Catonsville. The former Overlea resident was 94.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Montford Avenue, she was the daughter of Arthur Milske, who owned a general contracting business, and his wife, Ida Vogler, a homemaker. She was a graduate of St. John Parochial School and attended Seton High School, where she formed a lifelong relationship with the Daughters of Charity, the religious order that ran the school.
Mrs. Casserly left Seton in 1942 to work for her father’s construction company when he asked for help due to war-related labor shortages.
“She was needed in her father’s business and ran the office. The company had been asked by the War Department to make ammunition boxes for the war effort,” said her daughter, Adrianne Bayle. “She stayed on until she had her own family and later returned.”
She met her future husband, James, “Bud” Casserly, who had been serving in the Navy during World War II, at a drugstore in the Tenth Ward, the neighborhood south of Green Mount Cemetery.
They married May 16, 1944, and took over the Milske Construction Co. for his in-laws.
Mrs. Casserly was often called upon to assist in the Milske business. Each year she and her father bottled gallon jugs of eggnog and she was part of a team that delivered it to the firm’s many Roman Catholic rectories, convents and monasteries.
They settled in Overlea where she raised her family.
“Our home was open to everyone,” said her daughter, Adrianne. “My mother was quite a good baker. Everyone asked for her hot milk cake made with chocolate icing. She loved presiding at family events and if an extra person came along, that was great too. Family was everything to her.”
Mrs. Casserly served as president of the Ladies of Charity at St. Michael’s Church in Overlea.
“She had plenty of energy and was always at the forefront at carnivals, bazaars, school, and holiday events at the parish,” her daughter said. “She was a happy person who liked including people in everything.”
Mrs. Casserly also was a two-time president of the Ladies of Charity for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
She worked with the Daughters of Charity for decades to elevate St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to sainthood.
“In those days the nuns did not drive and my mother had a big station wagon because she had a large family. She became the nuns’ driver,” her daughter said. “I often accompanied her and it could be a tight fit with the passengers. The sisters had those big, white starched hats [called cornettes] and the station wagon would be full.”
Her daughter said that on one occasion when her mother drove the sisters to the order’s Emmitsburg mother house, she was stranded there because of a snowstorm and spent the night in Mother Seton’s home there.
Mrs. Casserly also raised money for the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart and the Trinitarian Order, as well as other organizations.
“It is fitting that she passed with the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate by her bedside,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Casserly spent many years working at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Towson. She was a ward clerk, receptionist and telephone operator.
She also worked for Baltimore County Corrections and, briefly, at the Hub Group.
Mrs. Casserly was a lifelong member of St. John’s Old Tenth Ward club.
She was an animal fancier. She fostered dogs and often bottle-fed cats. She and her husband raised boxers.
“When my father brought home a stray dog, my mother would ask, ‘Where did you find him?’ My father would say, ‘He jumped in the truck and followed me home,’” her daughter said.
Mrs. Casserly was also a devoted grandmother.
A Mass celebrating her life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday at St. Michael Roman Catholic Church at 10 Willow Ave. in Overlea.
Mrs. Casserly’s husband died in 2006. She is survived by two daughters, Mary Diehl of Lothian and Adrianne Bayle of Phoenix in Baltimore County; four sons, James Casserly of Perry Hall, Arthur Casserly of Rumsey Island, Chad Michael Casserly of Perry Hall and Shawn Casserly of Overlea; 15 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren. She also served as a grandmother to many other children who came into the Casserly family.