Casey Kasem to be buried in Norway, still alive in America’s heart

Casey Kasem to be buried in Norway, he lives on in America's heart
Casey Kasem to be buried in Norway, he lives on in America's heart

WASHINGTON, August 15, 2014 — The fight between Casey Kasem’s wife and his children has turned into a bitter family feud. Wife Jean is not moving on even after Kasem’s death on June 15.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Casey Kasem will be buried in Oslo, Norway, which can only be seen as Jean Kasem’s last slight against the children, his friends, family and fans.

Born Kemal Amin Kasem, but using the name Casey publicly, Kasem was an American musician, disc jockey, radio personality and actor. He was and will always be the voice for America’s Top 40.

Born in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1932, Kasem was married to Linda Myers Kasem from 1972 to 1979 and had four children with her: Kerri, Mike, Liberty Irene and Julie Kasem. He is also survived by two grandchildren.

Casey Kasem and Dick Clark who died in 2012 defined the music of the 1970s. “American Bandstand,” which ran from 1952 to 1987, and “America’s Top 40” were the break-out venues of many a musician and band. “American Top 40” was a four-hour block of songs played from the Billboard pop charts, along with trivia, anecdotes about celebrities and letters from listeners.

In 1980, Kasem married Jean Thompson. At the end of his life he suffered from Lewy body dementia and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007. At that time, Kasem signed a document giving his oldest children the authority to make his medical decisions if he should become unable to do so himself.

Signed by Kasem on November 11, 2007, the power of attorney included a declaration that he did not want to be kept alive with “any form of life sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration” if it “would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope of normal functioning.”

This document ignored Kasem’s second wife, Jean Thompson Kasem. As the father and husband deteriorated, a six-year legal battle over Kasem’s care began. As Jean Kasem battled with his children, she kept them from their father until his care was legally turned over to his daughter Kerri, a Los Angeles broadcaster and author.

Kerri Kasem was given custody of her father at the end of his life and it was by her authority that doctors ended infusions of water, food and medicine that prolonged his life, a process that Kasem’s doctor said would “at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process.”

Jean Kasem disagreed with her husband’s wishes and wanted to be in control of his health care, including taking steps to prolong his life. She said through her attorney Steve Haney that denying him care was the “equivalent of a death sentence.”

Jean Kasem moved Casey from the Santa Monica nursing home where he was receiving care in order to avoid a court order giving Kerri Kasem control over his medical decisions. Mrs. Kasem transported her husband from Santa Monica to Washington State by car, not telling his children where he was located.

When found and removed from the private residence, Mr. Kasem was taken to St. Anthony Hospital near Seattle, Washington. According to hospital spokesman Scott Thomason, Kasem was was treated with antibiotics through IVs, received blood pressure support medicine and care for his bedsores. His condition was listed as critical.

Kasem did indeed die, but there is little chance that he would have recovered any quality of life due to his advanced sepsis, dehydration, and diagnosis of Lewy body dementia for which there is no cure.

Death from Lewy body dementia can be extremely painful.

Since Kasem’s death, Jean Kasem has been in possession of his remains.

Kasem’s children, Kellie, Julie and Mike, had accepted that Jean Kasem would oversee the burial of their father, and held a memorial in his honor in the days following his death. However, Jean Kasem’s decision to bury their father in Oslo, Norway can only be seen as a final vindictive act, particularly as Kasem, an Armenian-American, has no known connection to Norway.

This is a sad end to an influential and beloved icon of America’s pop music culture. By her decision, Jean Kasem has taken away not only opportunities for Kasem’s friends and family to pay respects, but also the millions of fans of his shows and of the cartoon characters he gave voice. Their lives were made better because of Casey Kasem and “America’s Top 40.”

Rest in Peace Casey Kasem. You may not rest in American soil, but you will always have a place in America’s heart.

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