Al Casella – Tributes by Bob Croteau and Fletcher Farrar

Al touched a lot of people’s lives. He actually named this organization. More from the people who loved him. Bob Croteau offered this:

There are usually a few formative personalities you meet who have a profound impact on your life, Alex Casella was one of those for me.

I was struggling with direction as I had abandoned my chemistry career with the maker of Alka Seltzer and One-a-Day vitamins, feeling like I was part of the problem rather than part of the solution. I needed to do something with my hands and was doing home remodeling jobs, but that was not fulfilling either and started dabbling in solar energy projects.

My sister Suzanne was attending Sangamon State in the mid-1970s and told me about this innovative university, and a guy teaching solar energy classes. She said I should come down and check it out. I came to Springfield and SSU.  When I first met Al and his students, they were building a geodesic dome and solar collectors to heat it. This was definitely the place I wanted to be where it wasn’t just talk; they were getting down to it. This was where I could blend my science and my “build it” needs.

Alex had a class called Community Energy Systems which led to the creation of a not-for-profit corporation by class members and commuity activists. They hired me and 2 others to do solar demonstration and weatherization projects. In 1984 I was hired by CWLP and just celebrated my 25th anniversary of employment there pursuing my environmental passion.

He also took it to higher levels including a policy changing campaign bringing in the gurus of energy efficiency to Springfield like Amory Lovins and embarking on the Springfield Energy Project that identified all the things with energy policy that we still need to do now, thirty years later, to help save us from environmental and economic mayhem.

Clearly I owe this man of vision, compassion and intelligence my thanks. And so I offer this song to you that I sang for him many years ago because I feel it talks to how Alex lived his life.

(editor’s note: this part was sung, and I can not do justice to that. Bob Croteau has a marvelous voice)


Second Story Window from Rita Coolidge‘s first album.


Live your life however, you want to do whatever, you want to and you’ll never die.

You can do whatever, you want to do whatever, you want to do, and you can try.


And you know who your friends are, by looking in their eyes.

You know so you smile, but they never realize,

What goes on inside of every me and you, keeps on a rolling on, keeps on a rolling on.


Life just lasts a second, you don’t have time to  reckon things that people say and do.

Try to find your secrets, death is just a sequence, to be one day rolling through.

And you know who your friends are…


If you can love then you can, live forever you can, live forever if you love.

You just be a giver and help the poor deliver, it’s something less for something more.


And you know…

You know so you smile, and sometimes they realize, What goes on…           


Thank you Alex

Alex is still with us.


Bob Croteau
MA-Environmental Studies SSU


Bud Farrar offered this:

Editor’s note

At IT we’re sad this week about the passing of our old friend and colleague Alex Casella, who died March 5 at the age of 69. The former Sangamon State University professor was solar before solar was cool, doing most of his scientific work during the last energy crisis in the 1970s and 80’s. He was passionate about sustainable energy, but not just passionate. He was also sensible, making sure he had his facts straight and offering the best argument for the cause of renewable fuels. Al never passed up a chance to make his argument, appearing in these pages as often as we’d give him the chance in letters to the editor, guest columns and features. His tireless commitment to what he knew was right advanced the cause with hundreds of students and anyone who knew him. We’ll have to take it from here. — Fletcher Farrar, editor

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