Friends seek relatives of deceased co-worker
ASPEN Ever since Jim Casoff died nearly three weeks ago, not only have friends and co-workers mourned his passing, they’ve been challenged with finding a final resting place. That’s because, despite weeks of searching, no one can find relatives of Casoff, an Aspen grocery store employee who died of a heart attack Feb. 20. Information about his past has come to light, however, and St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen will absorb the costs of his burial. Co-workers said Casoff spoke of leaving all his worldly goods and money to the church, although he was not a parishioner, and no will has been found to verify his wish, according to City Market manager John Hailey.Casoff’s body remains in cold storage at the Farnum-Holt Funeral Home in Glenwood Springs, while a search for the will continues. Hailey said several people recently removed personal effects from his apartment at the Alpina Haus.The case has been turned over to Glenwood Springs attorney Jim Larson, who has been named public administrator. Larson was not available for comment and is out of town until March 19.Casoff, 60, was a longtime cashier at City Market. He was renowned for wearing Mardi Gras beads year-round, and for his gleeful annual observance of Halloween.According to Hailey, the efforts to trace Casoff’s background has led to testimony from co-workers that he changed his name at some point from Cassidy to Casoff; that he attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, N.Y.; and that his mother’s name was Matilda. Hailey said it also is believed that Casoff had a sister who also has died and that he has “some nieces and nephews somewhere.”Hailey has been working with the Rev. Michael O’Brien at St. Mary Catholic Church. Hailey praised O’Brien’s willingness to do so, saying “he had a lot of friends and co-workers who would like a little closure.”O’Brien was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.According to Garfield County deputy coroner Steve Pollard, this is not the first time that Farnum-Holt has found itself in charge of a body with no claimants. He said one man stayed in the funeral home’s cold storage facility for almost a year because no family members could be found. But even after relatives had been located, he said, “They said they wanted nothing to do with him.” So, Pollard said, funeral home owner Trey Holt, who also is the Garfield County coroner, paid for a funeral out of his own pocket.Pollard said a funeral service could cost some $2,000 at a minimum. Cremations, or the donation of a body to science, is not really an option in such cases, Pollard explained, because family members could show up later with objections and file a lawsuit against the funeral home.John Colson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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