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A woman who worked for two bishops of the N.C. Lutheran Synod in Salisbury has bequeathed $3.2 million to Lutheran institutions in her will.
Synod leaders announced Virginia Whitley Casey’s gifts at the 2007 Assembly of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which met at Lenoir-Rhyne College May 31 to June 2.
Casey was living at Trinity Oaks retirement center, which is operated by Salisbury-based Lutheran Services for the Aging, when she died in February 2006. She was 86.
Casey bequeathed $1.5 million to the N.C. Synod, the largest gift the synod has ever received, and the same amount to the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C.
She also left $200,000 to help fund the Alzheimer’s Unit now under construction at Trinity Oaks on Klumac Road.
The Rev. William Johnson, a close friend of Casey and co-executor of her estate, presented a check to N.C. Synod Vice President Faith Ashton during the Hickory assembly.
A native of Davie County, Casey began her work life as a clerk at the Kress Department Store in Salisbury.
Then, she accepted a job as as secretary to the late Rev. White Iddings at First-Albemarle, who took credit for training her to be “the best secretary ever.”
She later served Haven Lutheran Church in Salisbury as youth director and secretary before Bishop George Whittecar asked her to serve as his secretary.
She remained with the synod office in Salisbury through the term of Bishop Ernest Misenheimer.
Her husband, the late O.L. Casey, was a Food Town manager and invested early in Food Lion stock. O.L. Casey died in 1974.
After the death of her husband, Virginia Casey followed friends, the Rev. Johnson and his wife, to their call in Florida. There she made her first major gift, funding a five- year intern program at Holy Cross Lutheran in Spring Hill, Fla.
During her time in Florida, Casey was asked to serve on the board of Newberry College, a Lutheran-affiliated school in Newberry, S.C. Later, she donated funds to build the O. L. Casey Student Union, and the college awarded her an honorary doctor of humane letters in 1992.
In meeting with potential interns at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., she was impressed by the ministry and donated $1.5 million dollars to fund the Virginia W. Casey Education Center. The center was dedicated in 1999.
Casey asked that the gift to the synod be modeled after the N.C. Synod Michael Peeler Fund. This fund was established in 1958 through a gift in the will of Salisbury businessman Michael Peeler, a former member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salisbury.
The Casey donation will be invested and the interest used for gospel ministry, according to synod officials. The N.C. Synod Council will determine the guidelines for the Virginia Casey Fund.
In presenting the gift, Rev. Johnson said, “Virginia Casey in death gave this gift so she can continue to be a blessing to students at Southern Seminary and to the ministries of the N.C. Synod.”

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