Kassia Simonne Cook-Walsh

Kassia Cook-Walsh was born in Walnut Creek, California on June 19, 1968 to Kirsten Gayen and Thomas Cook. Over the course of her life, Kassia lived all over the world. As a young child, she moved with her family from California to Spring Valley, New York. In 1976, she moved with her family from New York to Nairobi, Kenya; in 1979, she and her family moved to Lisbon, Portugal. After brief periods in New Hampshire and Miami (where she lived with her Dad and his wife, Laura), and a return to Portugal, she lived with her Dad and Laura in Cedar Key, FL. There, she worked as a waitress at Cooks Café, a restaurant they owned. She then moved to Gainesville, departed it briefly to live with her mother in northern California, and then returned to Gainesville to settle permanently in 1991. On December 21, 2012, Kassia married Michael Walsh. Their wedding ceremony was small and intimate: a close group of friends and family all pulled on some cowboy boots and walked from their porch to the courthouse. Their home, like their marriage, overflowed with love. Together they raised and cared for four dogs (Sula, Norah, Jack, and Jo) and seven cats (Yume, Suejoe, Samson, Annie, Llamar, Biscuits, and Gravy). Mike’s entire family—children, mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews—became Kassia’s family. It was like she’d been there all along. Kassia was a tremendously talented artist—a potter, painter, drawer, and craft maker. From a very young age, she consistently placed first in her art programs, even in her competitive and rigorous courses in Lisbon (where she studied art for a year). Throughout her life, she was constantly working with her hands. She had a natural inclination and capacity to make the world around her more beautiful. She could take any old thing—a lost button, a piece of glass, a few stray beads, an old cigar box—and find a use for its beauty. Friends and family will remember the detail and attention with which she decorated and personalized gifts, sometimes with humor, often with great nuance and care, and always with love. For many years, Kassia worked at The Top restaurant, a community that she loved, and one which she helped to build and sustain with her humor, grace, and grit. The most experienced server at The Top, she became known as Mama Kas. The love she had for her friends was immeasurable. They were her root system, and, in the truest sense of the word, family—a genuine reflection of who she was and wanted to be. Kassia passed away on the night of Tuesday, August 7th in the gentle, loving company of her husband Mike. Her humor, generosity, love, courage, and intense creativity—qualities that inspired everyone she knew—will continue to brighten and emanate from each of our hearts. The same is true of the great strength that she showed in the final months of her life. Just as she has returned to nourish the earth, her life will continue to nourish our own. She lives on in her dear husband Mike, father Thomas, mother Kirsten, brothers Nic and Sinclair, Nic’s wife Jill and their son Lars, stepchildren Keenan and Emily, loving stepmother Laura and dear Aunt Jeaniene, Uncle Henrik, five other brothers- and sisters-in-law (Tim, Sean, Mary, Patty, Marjorie), eleven other nieces and nephews (Tyler, Ryan, Lauren, David, Jessica, Andrew, Sydney, Megan, Maddie, Sasha, and Erin), the dogs and cats (her babies), her beloved friends and coworkers, and countless others.