Ellen Harding Casey

Ellen Harding Casey, 91, of Scranton, died Friday morning at Regional Hospital of Scranton following a brief illness. Her husband was the late Governor Robert P. Casey, who died in 2000.
Born in Scranton, daughter of the late Raymond A. and Margaret Butler Harding, Ellen spent her younger years in Dunmore and attended St. Mary’s of Mount Carmel Grade School. She was a graduate of Marywood Seminary High School and Marywood College, where she majored in fine arts.
Bob and Ellen met at a school dance when both were 14, and dated throughout their school years. On June 27, 1953, they were married at St. Mary’s Church in Dunmore.  They then lived in Washington, D.C., but came home in 1959, first to Bob’s family’s house at 2109 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton. Three years later they moved to 2002 N. Washington Avenue, Scranton, which became their permanent family home where they raised eight children. Ellen’s mother, Margaret Harding, moved in with the family in her later years. Ellen lived there for 61 years until her death.
Ellen was a constant, nurturing presence in her children’s lives. She loved, cared for and worried about each one. She was a steady grounding force and the mainstay of the family. Her children benefited throughout their lives from her quiet strength and selfless devotion to all of them and to their Dad. Throughout their lives, everyone who knew Bob and Ellen could see that Bob adored her and depended on her. During his extended illness before his death, she never left his side.
From 1987 through 1995, while her husband was governor, Ellen was an advocate for maternal and child healthcare, adoption and literacy programs. She served as chairwoman of the Governor’s Commission for Children and Families and actively promoted the historic Children’s Health Insurance Program. She spoke out on behalf of landmark legislation which required insurance companies to provide annual coverage of mammograms for Pennsylvania women and set the standards for mammogram testing. She helped form the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and served as honorary chair, leading several public awareness campaigns on the causes of and treatments for breast cancer.
Ellen traveled across Pennsylvania visiting hospitals, drug treatment facilities, women’s shelters, childcare centers, Head Start programs and early intervention sites to educate parents and promote the importance of immunizations and check-ups.
She actively promoted statewide adoption programs and hosted the National Conference on State Literacy Initiatives. She regularly visited schools, libraries, prisons and community centers throughout Pennsylvania to deliver the message that “It’s never too late to learn to read.”
In 1990, Ellen received the first honorary degree from Marywood University, and also received an honorary degree from the University of Scranton. She was a member of the Boards of Trustees for both schools.
Ellen is survived by eight children, Margaret and husband, William, Dunmore; Mary Ellen Philbin, Scranton; Kate Brier and husband, Pat, Clarks Green; Senator Bob Casey and wife, Terese, Scranton; Christopher Casey and wife, Annette, Wayne; Erin Walsh and husband, Jack, Clarks Green; Patrick Casey and wife, Anne, Scranton; and Matthew and wife, Dr. Staci Casey, Bryn Mawr.
She is also survived by 34 grandchildren, Jack, Daniel and Will McGrath, Ellen Casey Grady; James, Sean, Marie Philbin Patterson, Genevieve and Clare Philbin; Nora, Patrick, Bobby, Aileen and Owen Brier; Elyse Casey Samuels, and Caroline, Julia and Marena Casey; Amy, Christopher and Thomas Casey; Ellen Walsh McCullough and Leo, Matthew, Rosemary and Emma Walsh; Bobby, Paddy, Jimmy, Quinn, Kellen and Cate Casey; and Charlie and Ellen Casey; as well as 15 great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her brother, Raymond B. Harding.
Ellen was fortunate in the last months of her life to have devoted, compassionate caregivers who did everything possible to keep her safe, healthy and comfortable.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Peter, 315 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503.
Friends may call Thursday from 2 to 8 p.. at the Cathedral of St. Peter.
Private interment will follow the Mass in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Moscow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Friends of the Poor, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509 (friendsofthepoor@fotp-ihm.org), United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 425 Alder St., Scranton, PA 18505 (uncnepa.org); or to any charity of the donor’s choice.


  1. Richard McHugh

    Prayers for the Casey family and Ellen’s friends.

  2. Posey Lynott Lavelle

    To Erin and the Casey family, please accept my condolences on the loss of your Mom. May she rest in peace.

  3. Gwendolyn Ridgley

    Extending our heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathy to all bereaved family members, friends, and acquaintances.
    Gwendolyn & Rev. Louis E. Ridgley, Jr.
    Past Presidents
    Fayette County (PA) NAACP

  4. Bob & Mary Getz

    Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Ellen’s family! May God Bless!

  5. Mary

    Dear Mary Ellen and family,
    We send our deepest sympathy and our prayers and loving thoughts to help you through this great chasm of grief.
    Love, Mary & Bob & Patrick Ross

  6. Lynn Olechna

    Margi, my heartfelt sympathy to you and the entire Casey family. Although I didn’t know her personally, she had to be a special lady to raise a beautiful family. My prayers are with all of you at this sad time.

  7. Erin James

    To the wonderful Casey Family,
    Our prayers are with you. We will miss sharing many special memories with such a kind, beautiful person!
    Cathy and Jim Cannon and Family

  8. john gordon

    Dear Casey Family, my deepest condolences for your loss. My sister and I were just talking about your mother and the old-world grace she had. Prayers and love to all.

  9. Mary Moczulski

    Dear Casey family, Please accept my heartfelt sympathy, and that of my family, at this sad time of Mrs. Casey’s passing. We remember her as a gracious lady who represented Pennsylvania so well as our First Lady. May she rest in peace.

  10. Peg OConnor

    Our sincere sympathy, she was such a lovely woman…. and made a killer blueberry pie!
    Love, Peg and Tim OConnor and the Jack and Gloria Maloney Family

  11. Kelly Baumbach Hess

    My sincerest condolences to the entire Casey family. My father James Baumbach adored all of the Caseys, as do I. Sending much love.

  12. Bill Titelman

    My deepest sympathies to the entire Casey family for this profound kloss.

  13. Patrice

    Deepest sympathies on the passing of your Mother. My Grandmother Margaret Rollison worked for your father for years in the Attorney Generals office. Patrice R

  14. Margie Ostrander and family

    Sending our deepest sympathy to the entire Casey family so very sorry to hear about the passing of your mother nay she rest in peace all of you are in our thoughts and prayers

  15. Linda LaCoste Suraci

    Margi, Billy & the entire Casey family, Such a wonderful Wife, Mom, Grandmother & friend. I am so very sorry for the loss of a great woman; your Mom. She was always so lovely and kind. Hold on to all of your wonderful memories.

  16. Jerry and Sharon Deininger

    Margi and the Casey family, please accept our condolences for the loss of your mom, our prayers are with you all.

  17. Andrew D Cannon, Jr.

    To the wonderful Casey Family,
    Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with you.

    Ellen was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, and Cousin. It was an honor and privilege to have her in all of our lives.


  18. Honorable John White, Jr

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the lost of your mother. If you need anything you know I am a telephone call away. The Casey family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. David Sweet

    During many years in Pennsylvania politics I met a lot of wonderful people. But without a doubt Ellen Casey was top of the list. She was kind, gracious, loyal and loving. I am lucky to have known her. And 34 grandchildren! I bet she never missed a birthday. My deepest sympathies to the Casey family.

  20. Christina Sarcevic Verdgeline

    Prayers and deepest condolences for everyone in the family. Peace in all your hearts! I trust that Mrs Casey is in heaven. She is a kind and gracious soul. May she rest in God’s peace.

  21. Joseph & Linda Manci

    Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this most difficult time.

  22. Mary Beth Kennedy Voda

    To the Harding and Casey families: I send sincere condolences to you on the death of your mother. I am a retired Wyalusing Area School District teacher and a lifelong advocate for reading and literacy. In 1989, Mrs. Casey accepted my and my students’ invitation to visit the Camptown Elementary School where she read to the students who were participating in the What Are You Reading? program. She was gracious and encouraging and concluded her visit by inviting the students to visit her in Harrisburg! I have pictures of that event and will never forget her kindness.

  23. kevin keeley

    Door fortiyr mom bod god bless you and your family

  24. Taryn Philbin

    To Mary Ellen & the entire Casey Family…Our heartfelt sympathies for the loss of your beautiful Mother. Our thoughts are with you all at this difficult time.
    Taryn & Tim Philbin

  25. Noreen O'Malley

    Condolences to the Casey family from the O’Malley family in Pittsburgh. May your Mom rest in peace and may all of you be comforted with great memories and know that your dear Mom is at peace.

    Jean, Tom, Kathy, Noreen, Eileen, and Danny.

  26. Edward Emerson Tamblyn

    CONDOLENCES to Casey Family, and to Erin- who I volunteered with at Castle restaurant in 80’s and Chris and Pat Casey who I attended Saint Paul’s 8th Grade and To This senator and Our Next PA Senator -Sen. Bob Casey. I talked to you Mom once on a Walk around the Block and I AM SO SORRY- I believe your Moms spirit is with you Dad and G-D and Our Lord with the Holy Spirit. I have Faith our Essence in Spirit Lives on, but nothing can take the emotional Pain of her not being available at a Yell. Peace, Love and Bless You, Edward Emerson Tamblyn-Gardens-room 316A

  27. Mrs. Barbara Ondrick Skopek , '72 Prep Class

    Dear Margi and Family,

    My heartfelt condolence to you upon the loss of your most cherished Mother. She surely impacted all of our lives in so many wonderous ways. I hold onto the memories at Prep and especially when she visited my son’s elementary school, Corpus Christi in Chambersburg, PA. for a reading lesson, along with her healthcare empowerment . How lucky we all were.. Monsignor Quinn said it all most eloquently about her life and what a shining example she was in the Jesuit tradition. She was a model for our challenging society today. We so need more Ellen Caseys to continue on. May Mrs. Casey be richly rewarded in heaven and may Our Lord grant eternal rest to this great servant into His Eternal Kingdom where we will be together again.

  28. Gena & Billy Mann

    To the entire Casey family,
    My wife, Gena, and I send our deepest heartfelt condolences. I grew up in PA– Casey PA–for much of my life and while I don’t live in the state anymore, my roots remain very much there. Over the years we have gotten to know Bob, Pat and their respective families. There is no greater tribute to the loss of such a great human being, than seeing the sprawling, dynamic, impactful next-gen family they helped create. For millions of Pennsylvanians, we genuinely consider ourselves part of that family and we grieve with you. God bless you during this difficult time. May Ellen’s memory be a blessing always.

  29. Pat (Patrick) Diskin

    To Mary Ellen & the entire Casey Family – – Mary Ellen, long ago you and your sister use to come to my home in MINOOKA with my Uncle Jim O’Donnell, Ann Marie and Eileen. As a child I worked on your Dads campaign against Governor SHAPP – Years after I joined the CIA in Washington DC. When your DAD (Governor) became ill, I sent you a ST JUDE card to your home in Green Ridge. (ST JUDE helpless and hopeless cases)

    I would have done ANYTHING for Governor Casey and his beyond beautiful wife. All of you were my idols! I am so sorry for your loss – The last time I visited Dunmore in 2012 when Diane Haggerty, Cecelia, and your mom were attending some event at the old Comerford theater.
    Your Mom was loved and cherished by so many people.

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