CHARLESTON — Sally Hite Casey, 97, passed away peacefully in her sleep (February 5, 2019) with family by her side. Sally was born in Charleston, IL and grew up in Kansas, IL on her family farm. She was preceded in death by parents Kate and John Hite, and sisters Mary Jane Wisner and Johnny Faith. She earned her degree in music from Millikin University and taught music to students in Rantoul, Illinois. She married the late William J. Casey in 1944 and had a son, James, in 1951. The family moved to California and opened an import/export store in 1953.
In 1973, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Botany and Master's in Biological Science in 1978, both from San Jose State. She taught classes at San Jose State, Foothill College, and Mission College in Santa Clara. Being one of the founding members of The California Native Plant Society, (Santa Clara Chapter), she was known as an expert on native grasses. Sally was named a CNPS Fellow in 1997, the highest honor bestowed on Society members. She was also a community resource with the U.C. Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program, California Rare Fruit Growers, and the Western Horticultural Society. She earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.C. Cooperative Extension. For 31 years she had a native plant nursery in her backyard and donated her plants to various local fundraisers. Her son James unexpectedly died in 1985, leaving Sally a granddaughter, Jaimie. They shared a close relationship which lasted until Jaimie’s untimely death in 2017. In January 2018, Sally moved to Henderson, NV to live with nephew Joel Wisner and wife C.J. Sally is also survived by nephews John and Jay Wisner, Steve and Alan Faith, and nieces Kathy Grams and Carol McCray. Sally is sorely missed and will always be lovingly remembered by her many friends and family members. A memorial will be held in San Jose, CA in the spring. Contributions in her memory may be made to CNPS (Santa Clara Valley Chapter) or Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County.