My first memories of Bernie Casey were in the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise. While I was still a kid, there was something familiar about him. He played the head of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity, which saved the day. He carried himself in such a way that was both professional and intimidating.
The familiar feeling could have been because he was in a boat load of movies in the 70’s, usually in a similar, but non-comedic role. It also may be because I saw him in some old NFL films. He played 8 years in the league and scored 40 touchdowns, including a game winner in a huge 1967 game.
While all of that could be why he was familiar, it could also be because he grew up in my hometown, going to Columbus East High School. After that, he attended Bowling Green University and had great athletic success before entering movies. He was also an accomplished painter and poet.
His personality, where he exuded strength and character, while keeping you at arms length, reminds me of so many people in my home town. Once you earn their confidence, they let you in, even if only a bit.
He passed today at the age of 78. When I found out, it was a bit of a kick to the gut. Even though I didn’t realize he was from Columbus until today, I always felt this bond, and now I know why.