TJ Casey has been named the grand marshal of the 2019 Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and it’s easy to see why. Casey served as state representative of the 118th District for 13 years, and his family, with deep Irish roots, has been helping to shape Milford since the turn of the century.
The annual Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place Saturday, March 9, starting at 1 p.m. from the Parsons Government Center in downtown Milford and making its way to the downtown green.
Casey will be leading the march.
The Casey family’s impact on Milford, and the family genealogy, can be found in a thick folder of notes, photos and old news articles compiled by family members.
It starts with arrival of TJ’s grandfather on his father’s side, John Casey Sr. His future wife, Maria Daley, had arrived here shortly before him.
“At the turn of the century, Pat [John’s brother] and John Casey left their homeland in the county of West Meathe in Ireland and came to the United States, where they settled in the then small town of Milford, Connecticut,” the story beings.
“For more than a third of a century, as members of Milford’s finest, they served as number one and number two policemen. Everyone knew and still remembers ‘Casey the Cop’.”
TJ says his success, and his honor as grand marshal, is thanks to his family.
“If it wasn’t for my mother and father, and their mothers and fathers, I wouldn’t have a story to tell,” TJ said. “It’s their story.”
Family, including his godmother, Shirley Boisvert, “are responsible for making me who I am,” he added.
TJ’s mother, Margaret Fagan Casey, wrote about her family’s 1908 arrival in Milford, when her father, Bernard (Bob) Fagan, came to Milford’s Myrtle Beach from Ireland and opened a small restaurant on East Broadway. It was Fagan’s Restaurant, and it grew to become the largest eating establishing in the area.
“Our dad, Papa, not only owned the best seafood restaurant in this part of the state, but the Whip and the merry-go-round that were located at the corner of East Broadway and Spencer Avenue,” she wrote. “These were the first rides in that area; the Walnut Beach Park came much later.”
TJ’s grandmother, Josephine Fagan, ran the first soup kitchen in town during the Depression.
The Casey and Fagan families were Milford business people and community activists, owning Fagan’s Restaurant, which later became Joy’s Restaurant, and the Casey Fuel Company, which grandchildren continued when they formed Climate Engineering Commercial Services. TJ’s mother chaired the March of Dimes and worked with others to form St. Ann School. She worked to establish the PTA here, and she led a crusade to make the then-appointed Planning and Zoning Board an all-elected board.
“Caseys have shaped Milford since the early 1900s,” TJ said, “particularly along the coastline.”
TJ grew up in the Rivercliff area and married Jacqueline P. Sconzo, now Casey, who grew up nearby. He’s never left Milford.
Casey, 67, was state representative of the 118th District from 1978 to 1990, and later worked as a lobbyist for Gaffney, Bennett and Associates in New Britain.
He and his wife have six children: Margaret Mary Casey III, Timothy John Casey Jr., Anthony Brendan Casey, Ryan Patrick Casey, Erin Marie Casey, and the late Nicholas John Casey. They have 11 grandchildren.
Martin Hardiman, longtime chairman of the Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, which runs the annual parade, said Casey was a natural choice to be grand marshal because of his years of service to the city and the state.
“And he’s a proud Milfordite,” Hardiman said.
Hardiman, a city aldermen, said he waged his first political campaign against Casey years ago when he ran against Casey for the 118th District, and lost.
“I was a relative unknown running against a very popular name,” Hardiman said. “TJ was liked on both sides.”
Skip and Marsha Ziebell nominated TJ Casey to lead this year’s parade. Skip said when members of the Irish Heritage Society were asked for nominations, he and Marsha nominated Casey “without hesitation.”
“He’s done a lot for the city and he’s never really had any acknowledgement of it,” said Marsha.
Skip has known the Casey family for years and speaks highly of them. He recalls TJ helping the Silver Sands Homeowners Association in the early 1980s to secure funding to get the Silver Sands State Park project moving.
“We had problems here with the dump and flooding,” Skip said. “If it wasn’t for people like TJ and the Silver Sands Association, that park would not have been developed.”
Ziebell said TJ and other Caseys before him have done a lot for Milford. Picking TJ as grand marshal “was a no-brainer,” Skip said. “He is such a super guy.”