Civic activist Joanna Kasler dies at 81

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The Ridge has lost a civic stalwart.

Longtime Bay Ridge community activist Joanna Kasler didn’t let a brain aneurism and stroke she suffered 30 years ago stop her from serving her community — and she kept working to make her neighborhood a better place right up until she finally went to an even better place.

Kasler, who died on April 1, spent decades volunteering at Lutheran Medical Center after suffering a stroke in 1981. The incident only fueled her activism, according to family members.

“She took pride in outliving not only her doctors and surgeons, but all life expectancy predictions as well,” a death announcement states.

Before the Reagan-era health scare, Kasler chaired the United Hospital Fund of Greater New York’s Brooklyn arm, presided over the Bay Ridge Day Nursery Juniors, and taught Sunday school and sang in the choir at two area churches.

After her stroke, she spent her free time circulating books and magazines to patients at Lutheran Medical Center — at times, accompanied by her 90-year-old mother.

Kasler was born and died in Brooklyn. She attended PS 102 in Bay Ridge and Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights before obtaining a bachelor’s degree from a Pennsylvania college. Her last residence was the Norwegian Christian Home in Dyker Heights.

She is survived by three sons and three daughters-in-law — Drew and Diane Kasler, Brian and Jude Kasler, and Christopher and Theresa Kasler — as well as daughter Janice Kasler, partner Pat, and seven grandchildren and extended family.

The family held funeral services at Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge and interred Kasler at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

In lieu of flowers, mourners are asked send donations to Bravo Volunteer Ambulance (8507 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11228), the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (26 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10004), or the Boston Children’s Hospital (401 Park Dr., Suite 602, Boston, MA, 02215).

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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