By Martha Stoelting
As someone who believes the arts and especially music improves the quality of life, Anita Hursh Cast has put that belief into action. She became involved with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra when she moved there and her contributions have grown since then.
A resident of Lake Wawasee and Fort Wayne, she and her husband, Bill, who is a retired physician, continue to be passionate and active in their areas of expertise.
Although born in Columbus, Ohio, Cast grew up in Goshen. She graduated from Goshen High School and later attended DePauw University, Greencastle. While in college, she served for a year as Miss Indiana in the Miss America contest.
She tells the story of the Goshen High School Marching Band raising the funds to go to Atlantic City for the Miss America Pageant parade the year she was Miss Indiana. “The community really came together and backed them to attend. My sister was in the band so it meant a lot to me to have that support,” she said.
The couple moved to South Carolina while Bill Cast was in the service and then had to choose whether to go to Indianapolis or Fort Wayne. “We chose Fort Wayne because of the proximity to the lake,” she explained. Her family had a cottage at Syracuse Lake. The Casts’ Lake Wawasee home is more than 100 years old.
Cast noted, “When the children and grandchildren come back, they come back to the lake. This is home to them.” There are three children, Jennifer, Carter and Megan, who have each carved out interesting and noteworthy lives for themselves and several grandchildren.
As a pianist, music is and has been a major focus of her life. She still performs on occasion. Her involvement in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic continues as she has served in what was then known as the women’s committee, and has been on the board of directors since then. Conductor Andrew Constatine lived with the couple for a while when he first arrived in Fort Wayne.
Cast was also on the Indiana Arts Commission board for eight years. Currently, Cast is involved with Jabobs School of Music at Indiana University-Bloomington as an advisory board member. One of the newer things she is passionate about is the role of music in medicine.
“One of the biggest projects I have been involved with came about because the Fort Wayne schools decided to cut funding for music and art.” It led to a group of parents, all with public school educations, founding Canterbury School in Fort Wayne. As opposed to the national trend of steering away from the arts, Canterbury’s programs have held fast. Art classes include “drama, choir, musical instruments, speech, chess, photography, computer art, music technical composition, orchestra, band, dance, and more,” according to the school.
The family enjoys getting together when possible, especially at the lake. A wedding is coming up for Megan. Bill and Anita Cast have traveled extensively and just returned from a white water rafting trip with two of the grandchildren and a trip to Scotland.
“I am ready to be home for a while,” said Cast. “I feel like it should be the end of June and it is the end of August. I am looking forward to some serenity at the lake.”