Their own chalet
SUMMIT COUNTY – Herman “Cas” and Lucy Casagranda married three months after they met. The Frisco residents recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary and, now in their mid- to late-80s, still keep busy.
Cas’ parents immigrated to the United States from Austria. He was born in Ouray, where his father worked as a miner. Cas was 1 when his father died, and he and his mother moved to Denver.
“It took a week to get to Denver on a steam train then,” Cas said.
Cas served as a carpenter’s mate in the Navy for three and a half years, repairing battle wagons and cargo ships in the South Pacific, before he returned to Denver to go to college.
Coincidentally, Lucy also served in the Navy as a nurse. The two were completing their education at the University of Denver when they met in an anthropology class.
“We had a long courtship of three months,” Lucy said and laughed.
Since Cas was already 32 and Lucy was 29, the couple was eager to tie the knot but agreed Cas should complete his master’s degree in art education before they started a family.
The Casagrandas raised two sons, Michael and Steven. Cas taught art in Denver middle and high schools for 31 years. After raising the boys, Lucy returned to her career in nursing.
In his spare time, Cas pursued his passion for art – primarily copper enamels, which he displayed and sold at galleries and local and national art shows.
Cas also figure skated for DU, often waking at 4:30 a.m. to practice before heading to work. And he played the bagpipes, which now hang in his living room in Bill’s Ranch.
“Some people have talent, and they have all of it,” Lucy said proudly of her husband. “I look back over the years and I think, “No wonder we were so busy.'”
Despite holding a full-time job and pursuing several outside interests, Cas still managed to find time to build a house in Bill’s Ranch, just southeast of Frisco.
After a solo trip to Europe, Cas decided he wanted to build a chalet in Summit County. Lucy’s family already owned the plot of land in Bill’s Ranch (in fact, her brother, Eldon Bahde, has a house next door, and their late sister had a cabin on the north side of the lot), and the Casagrandas spent the next several summers building their second home.
“I’d never be able to do it again – talk about life work,” Cas said.
Lucy is quick to add that their sons also put a lot of sweat into the house, alongside their father, and that Cas had never built a house before.
“We started just with a rectangle,” she said.
More than thirty years later, the Casagranda chalet is almost twice its original size, but the European influence still is evident.
A deep red carpet covers the living room floor. A colorful coat of arms accents the dark wood railing that separates the living area from the loft, and small, wooden paintings of flags decorate the rafters. Cas made a replica of the Casagranda family shield, which hangs over the stone fireplace.
Cas also made the knight’s armor, which stands in the corner next to the fireplace, and lights fashioned to look like medieval torches, which hang on a nearby wall.
A replica of an oil painting by Venetian painter Tintoretto, which Cas painted in the museum as he stood before the original, hangs on an adjacent wall.
“I know it’s hard to believe he did all this, but he did – just work, work, work,” Lucy said. “He just had so much talent.”
Now that Cas is 86 and Lucy is 83, the couple has slowed down a bit. They share their home time between a house in Aurora and the chalet. Otherwise, they like to spend time with their family, and they still enjoy traveling.
The Casagrandas seem content as they reflect on their life together.
“I can’t say we look back and say, “I wish I’d done more,'” Lucy said.
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