ABOUT BRIANNA CASSIDY
Brianna May Cassidy was born May 16, 1995 at Loma Linda Medical Center, in Loma Linda, CA to Rodney and Mary Cassidy. Her parents had been high school sweethearts, both graduates of La Sierra Academy, married in 1985.
Some amazing things transpired in the lives of Brianna's parents before she was born. After nearly ten years and much prayer, they felt impressed by the Lord to produce a 'new life'. Shortly before Brianna was conceived, Rod and Mary
were part of the King's Castle project (Messiah's Mansion)-a life size model of the mosaic sanctuary set up and used as an evangelistic tool under the direction of Pastor Ted Tessner.
Brianna was part of this project during its first showing a month before her birth. At her entry into this world, the Clairemont Church family in San Diego welcomed her, knowing she was special.
Brianna's father wanted a girl and it was decided that her name should be the feminine version of "Brian" her father's middle name. Her name, of an Iris/Celtic origin means "Strong and Honorable". Brianna's middle name, "May" was named after her paternal great-grandmother.
Brianna's parents moved to Mariposa, CA shortly before her second birthday. They quickly realized this was a setting which would lead her as a developing child to experience God in the natural beauty of a mountain environment.
Homeschooling was an advantage for Brianna through most of her academic instruction. At an early age, she expressed a love for animals which planted a desire in her heart to become a marine biologist. This eventually bore fruit in her scuba diving experience. One of Brianna's dreams was for her mother to enjoy a diving adventure with her.
About age 6, while in the Adventurer program, she had an opportunity with some of her friends to learn to snow ski. This was one of the first of many outdoor activities Brianna would experience and love.
When she was 8, the family became members of the Clovis SDA Church in the Fresno, CA area. She quickly exhibited leadership ability and Pastor Leamon recognized a junior deaconess in the making. (Brianna was a sharp thinker and always eager to help out.) Expeditiously, she advanced from Quiet Bag duties (for the mother's room) to junior deaconess and then to assisting her mother who was Primary Sabbath School teacher.
Being baptized at age 9 was one of the highlights of her life, having her grandfather present who had not attended church in 25 years. Brianna and her grandfather were very close. They had similar experiences, such as being an only child, and being avid readers. Their love for reading drew them close. He would always make time for her with a listening, patient ear.
Around age 11, Brianna began playing a computer flight simulator game with her cousin Erik. This sprouted the seed that would lead her to become a pilot someday. Further inspiration came when her parents read her the life story of David Gates, a missionary pilot.
By age 12, Brianna started violin lessons, definitely her instrument. She played intensely!
All through those developing years, her family would typically spend time in Yosemite, Brianna's favorite place to visit. She had the privilege of visiting the Park in every month of the year, over a dozen years, making many fond memories.
Becoming a pilot became Brianna's number one passion. For her to attend a private school which taught teenagers how to become pilots, the Cassidy family moved to Tennessee, after her grandfather passed away. It was there that she not only started a flight program, but began her scuba instruction.
Those close to her quickly realized Brianna excelled at whatever she set her mind to accomplish. In her second year, she began an apprenticeship in airplane mechanics at the nearby airport. Also in TN, Brianna's zeal for yet another interest--photography -- sprouted. Her family is blessed with thousands of her pictures remaining, a few of which are shared with you here.
Even though Brianna had a variety of interests and pursuits, her primary desire was to help others less fortunate. This was evidenced by her involvement with "Threads of Hope," a thrift store where she volunteered a year of her life. (The proceeds from the store went to aiding abused children.)
After completing her private pilot's license, Brianna's desire was to graduate in CA. The Cassidy family returned, this time to the Paradise area, and Brianna began her senior year at Paradise Adventist Academy. During this time, she volunteered at Little Light Studios, making use of her previous training in camera operation at Clovis Church and Secrets Unsealed Ministry in Fresno.
Continuing with her IFR flight training, she was still able to maintain a 3.9 GPA her senior year. The next highlight in her life was graduating high school, with a gold cord. She said it was the happiest day of her life, celebrating with family and friends. Brianna was showing good leadership and follow-through when she met with the Oroville Airport Manager and expressed her desire to continue the AMP mechanics apprenticeship begun in Tennessee.
Her next venture was attending a Maranatha mission trip to Panama during spring break in 2013. This was when her love for travel abroad became apparent. In October, 2013 she went on her second Maranatha trip to Ecuador and by Thanksgiving she was headed to Japan for a week's excursion with a family to do their photography. Japan held a precious place in her heart, inspiring her to take a course in the Japanese language.
The last year of Brianna's life continued to be filled with activity, as she was living life to the fullest. But she still found time periodically to spend with her two cousins, Chris and Night. They were like the siblings she never had.
Continued flying and additional scuba training for her Master Diver certificate consumed much of her time through the first two-thirds of 2014. In October, she flew back to TN for a 10-day break from her active schedule to spend time with a friend. Upon her return, she seriously considered returning to school, and decided to enroll in a nursing program, to begin classes in January 2015. [On a personal note: Brianna's mother also was considering taking some classes and looked forward to attending the same school with Brianna. One night at the dinner table, Brianna's father asked if she would be embarrassed with her mother attending school with her. She responded, "No, that way I could just protect her." She was very possessive of her mother, most of her life.
In November, Brianna applied for a job with Kohl's Department Store, to obtain at least some seasonal work. (This was her favorite store, though strangely she despised shopping for herself.) Her plan was to work part time to help defray flight expenses. She really longed to obtain her commercial license before the end of the year. To the surprise of many, Brianna caught on so quickly at Kohl's that within the first few weeks she had been trained in four departments, including cash management, which usually occurs only after the 90-day period. Brianna's key phrase when new challenges came up: "No problem; I'm a pilot. I can learn this."
Family Tidbit: Brianna would often tell us at the breakfast table an interesting fact she had learned the night or day before. She loved to share her discoveries with us, and we loved hearing her share them.
A few days before her tragic death, Brianna received some exciting news which assured her of the Lord's love for her personally. Her response brought great encouragement to her parents. She was to receive a gift which would enable her to finish her program in commercial aviation.
Brianna was always encouraging her parents. A special moment occurred with her father when he was unemployed. She found out that he desired to attend a grant writing seminar in Sacramento. She offered to pay for the seminar because of her confidence in him, and believing this would give him even more marketable skills. This act strengthened their relationship.
Her parents raised her with the value that you always "go the extra mile."
Family Tidbit: Brianna would often come jump in her parents bed at family worship time and bring up a theme to discuss with them, either before or after the mission story reading-whether a Bible topic or new adventure she was considering pursuing. She was eager to 'bounce' ideas off of them.
Future Plans Brianna planned to go to Peru for a month in the summer of 2015. There she would learn Spanish with a local she had befriended on a previous Maranatha trip. She planned to continue both aviation and scuba careers, and acquire advanced ratings. Her ultimate dream was to fly mission trips in Alaska.
Brianna's nick names: "Baby doll," "Lover girl," "Pumpkin," "Squirt," "Munchkin." She was loved as a daughter, cousin and friend.
Brianna's certainly was a life which "burned quickly and was very bright." Now she is resting until the resurrection morning.