Bob Cassilly's Ashes To Be Spread Along Mississippi River

bob cassilly 8.jpg
Photo courtesy Dilip Vishwanat
Bob Cassilly: "He can't be put in a box in the ground."
Daily RFT had a chance yesterday to speak to Bob Cassilly's widow, Melissa Giovanna Zompa Cassilly.

Giovanna tells us that funeral arrangements are still being made for the City Museum founder, but the event will likely take place this Saturday on what would have been the couple's seven-year wedding anniversary.

At least part of Saturday's ceremonies will occur at a yet-to-be-determined Catholic church at the request of Cassilly's mother. Later in the day Giovanna says family and friends will hold a private ceremony at her husband's unfinished project, Cementland, located along the Mississippi River in north St. Louis.

The plan there is to light a bonfire in Cassilly's honor and then canoe out into the water to spread his ashes.

"I know my husband pretty well, and I can say with certainty that he can't be placed in a box in the ground. That wouldn't work for him," she says. "He loved to canoe and would take the boys canoeing a lot to the island across the river. This is what he would want."

On Monday night Giovanna visited the morgue to identify her husband's body. She says initial findings place the cause of death as trauma to the head from when a bulldozer Cassilly was operating along a hillside in Cementland flipped over once, perhaps twice, before landing upright.

Yesterday Giovanna informed her children Dylan, 11, and Robert III, 6, that their father had died. The family took flowers to Cementland and left them near the bulldozer that remains on the scene. Cassilly had dedicated much of the past decade to Cementland, and it was not uncommon for the artist to lose track of time when working on the project. Still, it concerned Giovanna when she woke up early Sunday morning to catch a flight to Los Angeles and her husband hadn't come home.

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Image Via
The view from Cementland yesterday.
"I texted him before I left and continued once I arrived in L.A.," she says. "When I still hadn't heard from him Sunday night, I grew very concerned. I didn't sleep well that night and was up at 4 a.m. Monday continuing to try to reach him."

Finally, around 7 a.m. Monday (St. Louis time), Giovanna contacted one of the main workers at Cementland and asked that he check to see if Cassilly was there. "He called me back and said he'd found him. Bob was not okay. I packed my bags and headed back to the airport."

It's still not clear when exactly Cassilly died. It's believed he was last seen alive around 4 p.m. on Saturday, meaning that the bulldozer accident could have occurred between then and Monday morning.

Giovanna describes her husband as a risk taker and a man who considered himself somewhat invincible. "He was physically the strongest man I've ever known," she says.

Still, there was always the foreboding concern that his carefree attitude would someday catch up to him.

"It worried me as a wife and a mother," says Giovanna. "But it was impossible to do anything about it. That's the way Bob was. He didn't wear seat belts. He didn't wear helmets."

In fact, Giovanna says that last weekend was not the first time that Cassilly had flipped a bulldozer or tractor. He'd done it several other times and walked away.

Giovanna says she's been overwhelmed with the reaction from the community to her husband's death and believes his passing will only serve as more motivation for his dedicated employees (known affectionately as "the Cassilly crew") to finish Cementland and continue his legacy at City Museum.

"Many of these people had worked for Bob for decades," she says. "When you're that loyal to someone and work that closely with them, you get the idea of what is next. The crew understands his vision more than anyone. And I, too, have his sketches and ideas, so we're pretty optimistic that as a team the museum and Cementland will move forward." 

In addition to Giovanna and their two kids, Cassilly is survived by two children from a previous marriage -- Max, 26, and Daisy, 23 -- two brothers, a sister and his mother.


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7 comments
Tedbugg
Tedbugg

Nobody thinks it is fishy that someone doesn't come home from work and no body thinks to go look for this guy at the place where he has spent the last ten years......until the next day? It didnt even cross Mrs Five names mind that the guy could have fallen.....or hit his head? Or been mugged.....he was in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. 

Three weeks ago Cassily claimed there was an assassination attempt on his son.....and then he ends up dead.

Accidents can be arranged folks.....it doesnt take Capt Phil to smell a fish this stinky.

Randyknox
Randyknox

Sort of seems like Bob's marriage wasn't doing so well. The Mrs. leaves the kids with others and flies cross-country even though Bob is missing and she can't contact him. Sad too how she trashed the stepson after he was shot (whatever his issues) and then publicly criticized Bob's response despite Bob's obvious distress. Take a look at the 9/1/11 RFT story.

Cd10023
Cd10023

Goodbye to Bob!!!!!  A genius and the most interesting man I've ever met.

Scndesign
Scndesign

I consider myself unfortunate to have never met the man who has inspired me as an artist and designer for over a decade. Very few people in this world are lucky enough to leave such a monumental and positive mark in this world they way that Mr. Cassilly did. Although you will be missed, you work will continue to inspire, generation after generation after generation.

Shabels
Shabels

I will never forget Bob.  We became friends in the early eighties.  He was a unique man, to say the least.  Anyone who ever met him remained impressed and somewhat astounded.

Sharron BelsonSan Francisco

Sdfsdf
Sdfsdf

Bob was a towering pillar of muscle - we all thought he was indestructible. He would go out and work alone often. Not being able to get a hold of him was normal.

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