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Dr Joseph Cassian D'Cruz
By Flavio Gracias
Eulogy read at Cassian’s Funeral on 5 November 2004.

Cedric, Wilma, Daryl, Christopher and Colin, - THANK YOU for inviting me to pay this tribute to Cassian and it will be a very personal one! I consider it a privilege and honour to be participating in this celebration of his life - an occasion tinged with sadness at his departing but, looking from above, I am sure that Cassian will approve that his send off should be a gathering of relatives & friends who knew and loved him - a very social affair.
There is no doubt that Cassian had a wide circle of friends and there are many who have known him much longer than me. However, I feel that I have a slight edge because Cassian lived with us (Bernie and me) for nearly a year before he moved to his flat in Ealing. It is only when one lives under the same roof in close proximity that one gets a better insight of a person. However, I doubt that one ever gets to know a person completely. Because of my involvement with the Goan Association (UK), where he served as an office-bearer long before me, we used to have endless debates on what role the Goan Association should play in the life of the community. We had our disagreements but on one point were in total agreement - we could not accept the expulsion of members. He had a brilliant analytical mind and therefore, he always considered that problems could be solved with discussion rather than confrontation and he practised what he preached. To me, he was a unique friend because he cared for people passionately especially the underdog. Perhaps, it was because of his own weakness and I refer here to his love for the amber nectar) that he had an understanding of people which eluded me.

Born 55 years ago in Nairobi, Cassian had his early education in Mombasa where I was born and bred. My recollection of him then is faint but I remember his parents well (Gerald and Margaret) particularly his father, who was a gifted musician and the choir master at the Holy Ghost Cathedral there. The family left Kenya just before his "O" levels which he took in the UK and followed it with three "A" levels passing with flying colours. This achievement is all the more striking because he taught himself at home. Then came his BSc degree in maths at Imperial College and his doctorate in Nuclear Physics at Queen Mary College, London.

His career in industry involved a fifteen year stint with Amoco, an American Oil Company, and when his office moved to Hanger Lane he decided to relocate from Edmonton to Ealing. I clearly recall receiving a phone call one evening to say that he was homeless and asking if I could put him up until he bought his own place. I had no hesitation. He was due to move on a Saturday evening - we waited and waited but there was no Cassian. On early Sunday morning, he turned up and on enquiring where he was, he told me he spent the night in police cells. I can well imagine the perplexed look on the officer's face when Cassian was asked where he lived - he said that he lived in Edmonton but he had sold his place was moving to Greenford but he did not know the address or telephone number. Well, the next morning, his brother Cedric came to the rescue but Cassian paid a heavy price for that traffic violation - he had to give up his love for driving and dispose of his "dream" car - his beloved Ford XR4. Forever the optimist, he put it behind him and got on with life living in Greenford and travelling everywhere by public transport.

It was at this time, that he was forced to do a spell of community work. Rather than being a sentence, he seemed to relish the challenge as it got him involved with people. The merger between Amoco and BP led to the consolidation of their respective workforces and resulted in Cassian parting company with the oil industry.

Then followed another challenge, with Cassian successfully completing a teachers training course and teaching maths in a secondary school in Hounslow. However, this work did not bring him the satisfaction he craved because he felt that more time was spent trying to discipline unruly boys than imparting knowledge and he left the teaching profession to pursue other activities. At about this time too, he gave up his legendary affinity for the amber nectar and helped others to do the same by being a volunteer for AA. He also used his time to help other charities including the Samaritans. The strength of his character gave him the resilience to cope with the various changes and challenges in his life and there were many!

His one love is what I will remember most - his love for travelling. The only problem is that he sometimes took off without telling anyone but no matter where he was, I would get a phone call or more recently an e-mail. I remember one Christmas, when his brother called me very concerned and asked me if I knew where he was. On asking why, Cedric said that it was early afternoon and Cassian had promised to come to lunch but had not turned up. I told him that it was unlikely Cassian would make it because I had just received a call from him in Toronto wishing me a HAPPY CHRISTMAS. Cassian was a free spirit and, if he had one failing, it was his inability to understand that there were people around him who also cared about him. He just did not appreciate this reciprocal affection and it appears that he considered reaching out to people for help was a weakness - he just did not want to be a burden. Perhaps this is a legacy which Cassian left for me because there are many like Cassian who live on their own. In my role as President of the Goan Association (UK), I would like to make a plea that if you live on your own and are not working - please, please establish a pattern with someone - make a phone call every day or send an e-mail just to say you are okay so someone who cares is alerted if the pattern is broken. If you do not wish to trouble a close friend or relative, then get an aid call which can summon help at the press of a button. For me and Cedric who found Cassian, we will always live with the regret that we reached too late to help him and forever dwell on the thought - if only!!!

Cassian enjoyed life to the full. His death will leave a vacuum in the lives of his family particularly his three nephews for whom he cared very deeply. I will miss his friendship and generosity - that obsessive desire to help others less well off than himself. I remember him coming home one day after he put all the money he had on him into a collecting tin at a tube station because he felt sorry for the collector - he even offered the young lady his car. I told him that it would not surprise me if he came home one day without his pants on, having given it to some homeless person he met on his way home. That was Cassian and may he be rewarded with eternal joy in heaven for all the kindness and pleasure he brought to all those whose lives he touched! Goodbye my dear Cassian, rest in peace!

Flavio Gracias

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