By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dave Casper, longtime Times columnist and founder of West Hall Baptist Church, dies at 79
1125CASPER 1.jpg
Dave Casper, 79, helped establish West Hall Baptist Church more than 40 years ago and was a regular columnist at The Times.

Dave Casper, a pillar of the South Hall community and longtime columnist for The Times, died at age 79 Tuesday, Nov. 23. 

Casper helped found and construct West Hall Baptist Church more than 40 years ago and served as a deacon, teaching children at Sunday School until Alzheimer’s disease made the task too difficult late in life. 

Mike Reynolds, who has been the senior pastor at West Hall since 2011, said Casper was one of the first people he could go to with any problem, and welcomed him into the church when he took over as pastor. 

Reynolds said he enjoyed reading Casper’s Gainesville Times column, in which he would often use his personal experience and history of the area to influence his work. The column’s writing style, structure and energy was reflected in a novel Casper published in 1992 called “Cork on a String,” which is a coming-of-age story set in North Georgia in the early 20th century. 

Casper worked for AT&T in Hall County for many years before becoming a Realtor at the Norton Agency for 12 years. He retired in the early 2010s and after talking with several coworkers of his the same words kept coming up: genuine, gentleman, respectful.

“Hall County has lost a treasure,” CEO Frank Norton Jr. said.

Norton called Casper a stronghold of the South Hall community, saying Casper would go beyond what was required to help people acclimate to their new surroundings and feel at home. 

1125CASPER 2.jpg
(both Casper photos submitted by Mike Reynolds. Not sure how old he is in this one but Reynolds estimated in his late teens)

Many people who worked with Casper said he was typically soft-spoken but contained a strong, wry sense of humor when he decided to show it. Pat Harrell, who worked at Norton with Casper for more than 10 years described him as “one of the funniest people in the world. … He would blow us away.” 

Casper would often go on long road trips with his sons, Scott, Pat and Jeff, traveling as far as Arizona by car and camper. Pat, 58, said his father loved history and instilled that same appreciation in his children whether it was showing them Amish country in Pennsylvania, an old car museum out west, The Smithsonian in D.C. or Civil War battle sites across the South. Casey Kasem often served as the soundtrack to the long trips, Pat said, and Casper loved country music as well, especially Hank Williams.

“There was never any time in my life where I needed anything that my dad didn’t do anything he could to provide whatever it was I needed,” Pat said. 

“He loved people,” Casper’s youngest son, Jeff, said. “That was the whole point of traveling, is he wanted to see the people that lived there.”

Casper was exceedingly handy and outdoorsy, helping construct additions to the family’s Oakwood home over many years. Nicole Baxter, who lived across the street from the Caspers growing up, said he even helped the Baxters set up a haunted house one year in the early 1970s, transforming their basement and backyard into a spooky attraction for kids in the neighborhood. 

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 27 at West Hall Baptist Church in Oakwood with interment to follow in Memorial Park Cemetery. Dr. Mike Reynolds will officiate. The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26 at the funeral home.

Memorial Park Funeral Home, 2030 Memorial Park Road, Gainesville, GA  30504 is in charge of arrangements.