MIKE CASSESE It is with great sadness that the family of Mike Cassese announces his sudden passing on the morning of December 27, 2012 in his Toronto home at the age of 53. Mike was the beloved father of Daniel and David. He leaves behind his sister Mary Iafrate, her husband Domenic, niece Vienna and nephews Carmen and Michael. As Mary said, "My heart is broken. He was my rock, my best friend." Mike was close to his large and loving family: his uncle Rocco, aunts Maria, Grazia and Guiseppina and cousins Mary and Felicia, Erminia, Saveria, Luisa, Santo, Carol, Paul, Saverio and Gino and all their children. He is predeceased by his devoted mother Antonia and father Joseph. Mike was a renowned photojournalist for Reuters wire service and prior to that, the Toronto Sun. He was known for his quiet demeanor, although his friends in the business knew that behind the calm was a sharp professional who moved with such speed he captured the rarest of moments, especially in sports photojournalism. It was Mike who took the photograph during the 1992 World Series that showed the Toronto Blue Jay's Kelly Gruber tagging out Deion Sanders in his attempt to complete a triple play. The umpire didn't see it and awarded second base to the Atlanta player, but the proof was in Mike's photograph. Mike won a National Newspaper Award for that picture and a second NNA for his 2009 photograph of Minnesota Twins batter Justin Morneau, taken the split second a ball fouled off his cheek during a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He accomplished all of this with understated grace. Mike's professionalism earned him a front row seat at major league sports events, along with entertainment and political news. He introduced his sons to photography and they joined him at events like the Grey Cup, Much Music Video Awards and the Queen's Plate, happy to be part of the photographers' camaraderie. He had an exceptional career and excellent friends, especially J.P. Michelini and Fred Thornhill, whose New Year's Eve storytelling around the bonfire always included the Cassese boys. Most of all, Mike loved his sons and they loved him. Visitation on Saturday from 6-9 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. at the Jerrett Funeral Home, 1141 St. Clair Ave. West, near Dufferin. The Funeral Mass will be held on Monday at 10 a.m. at the St. Clare Catholic Church.
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Published in the Toronto Star from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2012