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Grady Edward Caskey, age 72, of Walland, Tennessee, passed away peacefully at home with his wife and family at his side on Saturday, October 7, 2023, after a three year battle with cancer.
Grady, better known as, Eddie, in his home state of Louisiana, moved to Tennessee in 1997 to complete the Master’s Program for Art Education at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
He took up residence in Walland, Tennessee in 1999, working first at Heritage High School where he taught art and coached soccer. Later he taught art in Blount County elementary schools until his retirement in 2017.
Grady became interested in history and politics at the age of twelve when President Kennedy was shot. It put the importance of leadership on his radar.
He served a three year term as the president of BCEA, the Blount County Education Association, representing his fellow teachers before the Blount County School Board.
Grady also ran for a state representative spot in 2012.
Next, he was elected to serve a term on the Blount County Commision, representing District 8, Seat B, beginning in 2014.
Grady was known by many as “The Trainpainter”. He was an accomplished artist and had tremendous passion for the era of steam engine trains. He incorporated steam engine trains into a majority of his artwork.
His oil paintings were recognized in art publications and selected for a prestigious train art exhibit. He was honored to be accepted as a member by Oil Painters of America.
While in Louisiana, he was involved with the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Longleaf, LA , an abandoned lumber mill turned outdoor museum with train track running through it, which was used to deliver lumber by steam engine trains, most notably to deliver lumber for the last World War’s efforts.
His train enthusiast friend, Everett Lueck commented:
“His passion as an artist, and his livelong love for trains and history all came together at that spot, in time and space. Grady set out to do a series of paintings of the Long Leaf museum and its trains, and also to be a co-author of a book on the museum and the family that had built the lumber company. The book was never finished, but his paintings were. His final painting, ‘The Last Run’ depicted the last run powered by a steam locomotive of the Red River and Gulf RR on the night of March 31, 1953 as locomotive #106 prepares to depart Long Leaf in a typical Louisiana thunderstorm. The painting is the cover of the museum's special book on Locomotive #106 which is undergoing restoration at the museum today.”
The train described was on a desperate mission to finish its delivery by a certain hour, encountered a fallen tree across the track that it pushed aside with its “cow catcher”, and completed its mission just in time before its permit ran out. Grady chose these type of historical stories to be the theme of his paintings.
Grady began life as the son of a Baptist preacher and a mother who taught him a love of art making.
He developed his great love for vegetable gardening in his parents’ huge countryside vegetable garden in Williana, LA.
His father grew impressive sweet smelling “Mr. Lincoln” roses which Grady loved and tried growing himself.
His high school, Bolton High, was the only one in the country with an escalator. Yes, he used it.
He became enamored with bull riding and was very active in that for a while.
He became the father of two very intelligent, talented girls who he coached in sports, especially soccer. He soccer refereed for 20 years.
Additional strong interests were duck hunting, fly fishing, genealogy, Cajun and Creole cooking.
Grady was owner of two different businesses in Louisiana: Service Master and an art supply store, Magnolia Art Supply.
He also worked on offshore oil drilling rigs for many years where he loved watching how intelligently the dolphins hunted flying fish.
Survey work for the Army Core of Engineers was another of his occupations.
Grady positively touched the lives of many students and teachers over the years by supporting them in a range of ways.
He was a very energetic man with a great sense of humor.
Grady loved his wife, Gretchen, and his daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren with all his heart. Equally, he loved his bonus daughter and son-in-law, bonus son and daughter-in-law, and his “adopted” grandson, whom he spent many hours playing with and doting on.
His entire family, both related and bonus, were loved by him and they loved him dearly. Some are: Jack and Rosa Lee Moore, Paul and Emilie Madigan, Mandy Moore, Chloe Madigan, Natalie Madigan and Georjean Buscha Hertzwig and the Goldman family.
He especially loved to cook Thanksgiving meals for them all.
His turkeys were amazing.
Grady was authentic, unpretentious and a straight shooter with tremendous integrity. He loved to serve his community and his family.
He fought the good fight against cancer, never complaining, committed to overcoming despite all odds.
He loved the Lord Jesus greatly and even more so the older he got.
If you were to ask him what was the most important thing one needed to know, it would be, “God loves you.” He would tell you about Jesus and pray you would accept Him as your lord and savior. He and his wife spent many hours reading scripture, praying for others and praising God, and considered it to be the most treasured experience of their marriage bringing tremendous richness into lives.
He attended Calvary Baptist Church in Alcoa for many years.
He was greatly loved and admired and will be terribly missed by many.
Grady is survived by his wife of nine years, Grachin (Gretchen) Kara Caskey; two daughters, Ashley Nasello of Pineville, LA, Jodi Caskey of Chattanooga, TN; one brother, David (Hoot) Caskey (Bonita) of Jonesboro, LA, one sister, Kathy Jarreau of Holden, LA; two grandchildren, Lexi Leger (LJ) of Lafayette, LA, Tyler Richard of Breaux Bridge, LA; two great grandchildren, John Leger and Gabi Rose Leger of Lafayette, LA; five nephews, Jay Caskey (Olivia) of West Monroe, LA, Sean Caskey ((Jocelyn) of West Monroe, LA, Chad Caskey (Ashley) of Choudrant, LA, Matt Caskey (Mandy) of Eros, LA, Mark Daniels of Albany, LA; one niece, Kristi Trawick (Paul) of Holden, LA, an uncle and multiple nephews and nieces of LA.
Grady is survived by his bonus family as well.
One daughter, Valerie Sanders (Mischa Goldman) of Knoxville, TN; one son, Colin Sanders (Gillian Yeoh) of Knoxville, TN; and one grandson, Avishai Sanders-Goldman of Knoxville, TN.
A Celebration of Life will be held sometime in the future at a currently unspecified date. It will be posted on Facebook and the newspaper when a venue and date are determined.
Grady was passionate about Nicaragua Missions.
If you wish you may make donations in honor of Grady by writing your check contribution to Woodland Park Baptist Church.
Memo: Nicaragua Missions (for a tax letter)
Woodland Park Baptist Church
228 Manhattan Avenue
Oak Ridge, TN. 37830
Cremation Done ProperlyTM under the care of Dotson Funeral Home, Wildwood. (865-984-5959) Online Condolences - www.dotsonfuneralhome.com