I wasn’t surprised when I got the news on Father’s Day that he’d died. Today, I’m remembering Casey Kasem.

Like a lot of other folks who get the bulk of their news from the Internet, over the past few weeks I became aware of the drama surrounding the last days of Casey Kasem’s life. His children from his first marriage to Linda Myers were at odds with his second wife, Jean Kasem, over the legendary announcer’s medical care. I read a number of disturbing accounts of what was going on between the kids and the wife, but I hesitate to draw conclusions. So much of what has been written about how Casey Kasem was cared for during his final days seems very dramatic. Given that I don’t know any of the people involved and recognize how the press can distort things, all I can say is that Kasem’s last weeks on earth were probably a lot less peaceful than they needed to be.

Casey Kasem had lewy body dementia, a cruel disease that also affects my father. My dad is a year younger than Kasem is, though at this point, he still seems relatively coherent at times. Having seen lewy body disease and the dementia it causes up close, I can imagine that Kasem’s last days were very painful for his family. Lewy body dementia typically causes hallucinations and disorientation. In Kasem’s case, it also took his voice. My father has also lost much of his voice and that makes me realize how traumatizing it must have been for Kasem, to lose that one thing that he’d built his life around. My dad used to be a good singer but can barely speak now. It’s hard to imagine Casey Kasem without his famous voice; naturally, he stayed out of the public eye in his last days.

I remember Casey Kasem so well as the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo and the announcer on the American Top 40 radio show. On weekend afternoons, I’d be cleaning stalls at the barn where I boarded my horse. The radio would be playing and nine times out of ten, it was Casey Kasem’s show that was on, counting down the nation’s favorite pop songs. His voice had sort of an everyman quality to it. He sounded like a next door neighbor rather than some golden throated announcer. That quality made Casey Kasem easy to relate to; he just sounded like a nice, friendly guy who loved music and wanted to share it. He could be your friend, even if it was only over the airwaves.

Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 circa 1987.

Maybe today’s young people don’t have the memories of Casey Kasem’s show like I do. It’s been awhile since he was last on the air and radio is not the medium it once was, given the many entertainment choices we have available today. But besides hearing him on the radio, I remember seeing Kasem guest on a number of TV shows, including one memorable episode of Saved By The Bell, a show that was initially popular in the late 80s and eventually became even more popular in syndication.

Casey Kasem on Saved By The Bell, introducing “The Sprain”. Looks like he enjoyed that gig!

Of course, Kasem wasn’t without moments of drama. Since his death, a couple of clips on YouTube have sprung up, indicating that he had a tendency to curse sometimes.

There’s a lot of swearing on this video, but I have to admit I get a kick out of hearing Casey Kasem cuss.

Casey Kasem does Shaggy on Scooby Doo.

In addition to his lengthy radio career, cartoon voices, and television cameos, Casey Kasem’s voice also pitched a lot of products. He lent his famous voice to many different product endorsements, doing voiceovers for everything from the California Raisin Advisory Board to Chevron.

Casey Kasem does a voiceover for a Dairy Queen ad circa 1986.

I think of Casey Kasem as being sort of the voice of my generation. At 82, he lived a long and very productive life. He was famous for his long distance dedications and his familiar tag line, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars…” I hope wherever Casey Kasem is now, he’s among those stars and at peace.