Published January 13, 2015
No one popped the champagne when city recorder Bill Casto was overwhelmingly re-elected this week in Ripley, West Virginia.
That’s because the day before the election, the 74-year-old Casto dropped dead of a heart attack outside of his home.
“Since he passed away the day before, we just kept his name on there,” city clerk and treasurer Tom Armstead told FOXNews.com. “In the state code, the ballot has to be set up many days before, so there was no way to physically remove him from it.”
Casto won the election Tuesday in a landslide, besting his opponent 523-324.
Although the Jackson Herald newspaper printed notice of Casto’s death Tuesday morning, the polls opened at 6:30 a.m., which may have been too early for some people to read about it before they voted, said Brenda Rollins, a co-worker and friend of Casto.
“I would say just about everybody knew him,” said Rollins, who worked with him at a local bank prior to working with him at City Hall. “We’re all still in a little state of shock.”
Casto underwent bypass surgery about 20 years ago, his daughter Mary Toler said. He since has used a pacemaker and has seen a doctor for ongoing heart problems.
“He was 74 years old, so of course he’d slowed down through the years, but he was still a very active man,” Toler said. “He never missed a day of work and he would work regardless of how he felt. I’m sure he never gave a moments thought to whether he could serve his term or not, he wanted to serve his community as long as he could.”
Newly elected Mayor Carolyn Rader told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel newspaper that finding a replacement for Casto will be a priority when she takes office July 1, although she isn't quite sure of the procedure for filling the position.
Casto was a father of four, a grandfather of 11, and a great-grandfather of five. He was active in his church community and in local education, his daughter said.
Casto graduated from Ripley High School in 1950 and was inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame for his high school sports achievements. He also held a record at Ohio University for the longest pass.
“He always felt that a good leader would take a little more of his share of the blame and a little less of the credit,” Toler said. “All four of his children returned to Jackson County after college to be with him.”