John Kasich, 63 and the father of twin girls, is one of three final candidates in the GOP race. Having lived through the tragic loss of his parents, he embraces fatherhood and always puts his family first. His wife, Karen Waldbillig, has made it a priority to stand by his side while advocating health and fitness as the First Lady of Ohio.
Kasich has made it a point to be a respectful example to his daughters, and his efforts are shining through them. The twins have excitedly joined in the rally to support their father in his quest to be the next President of the United States.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Parents Were Killed in 1987 by a Drunk Driver
On August 20, 1987, when Kasich was 35, his parents were killed by a drunk driver in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. After stopping at Burger King for a coffee, their Oldsmobile was struck as they pulled out. His father died at the scene while his mother hung onto life, only to die the next day. In his third book, Every Other Monday, Kasich wrote, “I don’t think they ever saw it coming.”
The drunk driver, Gregory Kuszajewski, 23, was charged in their deaths. His blood alcohol level was 0.19, almost double the legal limit of 0.10 per Pennsylvania state law at the time. “In exchange for his plea, the district attorney’s office dropped two involuntary manslaughter charges against Kuszajewski. He pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kuszajewski was sentenced to only three years in prison, angering Kasich. “It’s another weak sentence to drunk drivers. It’s a horrible decision that leads to continued carnage on the highways,” he told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette after the sentencing.
Kasich had a strong relationship with his parents, and as can be expected, the tragedy has had a profound impact on his life. At a stump speech in South Carolina last month, Kasich recalled when he was a little boy how his father had to pick his mother up late at night. He was always worried that they wouldn’t make it home, but they always did. “But in 1987, I’m in Washington, D.C., and I get a phone call,” he told the crowd. “They didn’t come home one night. A drunk driver hit them and killed my father on site, and my mother died the next day.” He went onto ask them, “Has anybody ever been where your whole world was black, and you got a little pinprick of light?” Mr. Kasich asked. “And then when you see that, you know you got to just take it one hour at a time.”
2. His Wife of Nearly 2 Decades Is Passionate About Heart Disease and Childhood Obesity
Kasich, 63, met his wife, Karen Waldbillig, in 1989 when she was just 25 years old and working on a public relations project for Ohio State University, according to the Cincinnati Inquirer. “I’ve just seen the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” Kasich told his chief of staff at the time. They were married in 1997 and have twin daughters, according to her biography on the Ohio State website. “Karen Kasich later left her career in healthcare, public relations and marketing to spend time with their twin daughters Emma and Reese, and pursue volunteer opportunities as the First Lady of Ohio,” reported abcnews.go.com.
Heart disease runs rampant in Karen’s family. She lost her mother to congestive heart failure in 2010. In addition, her late father and two grandmothers also suffered from heart disease. It’s her family’s health history that has inspired her to help others, focusing on childhood obesity and heart disease in women. “If I can shine a light on anything as first lady in Ohio, health would be what I’d focus on,” Karen, 52, told Cleveland.com.
3. His Daughters Are in Full Support & Heavily Involved in Kasich’s Campaign
The Kasich’s twin girls, Emma and Reese, 16, wholeheartedly enjoy supporting their father in his pursuit to becoming President of the United States. In a post on Kasich’s website, the girls exclaimed:
In town halls, TV studios, restaurants and the campaign bus, we had the opportunity to talk to people about why our dad would be an incredible president. Our dad likes to say that campaigning is hard work–it’s not all glamorous. That’s true, but we still thought it was pretty cool!
It is important to the Kasich’s that their daughters go to school in a Christian environment, and they’ve attended Worthington Christian Schools since preschool. According to thisweeknews.com, “Troy McIntosh, head of school at Worthington Christian, says the Kasichs have been a welcome addition to the Warrior family. He says the first lady drops off and picks up her children just like everyone else — with a little extra security provided by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.”
4. Fatherhood Makes Him Look at the World Differently, & He Strives to Always Set a Good Example to His Daughters
After losing his own parents and then becoming a father himself, Kasich has embraced fatherhood. He teaches his daughters about the importance of kindness, and always minding your manners. In his book, Stand For Something, he writes:
I started looking at the world through a different lens once I became a father. I got around to it fairly late, and when I finally did I caught myself second-guessing a lot of my decisions, and wondering how my actions might make me look to my kids. Big things and small, it’s all about setting an example, and taking the lead, so I make sure to keep my seat belt on even when I’m in the driveway, and I make sure to treat people decently, even when it’s one of those telemarketers who seem always to interrupt us during dinner.
Perhaps this mindset is part of the reason why Kasich told CNN he won’t likely be voting for Trump. “Too much water under the bridge,” Kasich told CNN.
It’s not clear who the governor will be voting for at this time, as he made it clear it won’t be for Hillary Clinton.
5. He Has 2 Siblings & Is Quiet About Their Relationships
Kasich is the eldest of three and isn’t as vocal about the relationship he has with his siblings compared to that of his wife and children. The devastating loss of their parents could definitely be one reason that he chooses to keep that aspect of his life more private.
According to Cleveland.com, “He’s remained close with sister Donna, but he was estranged from brother Rick for years after their parents died.” It has been said that the family estate put a wall between John and Rick. However, the brothers have since reportedly made amends.
While little is known about Rick’s personal life, Donna’s LinkedIn profile states that she is the Director of Market Research at the University of West Virginia. In 2009 she tweeted the following, not knowing that only seven years later her brother would be running for President of the United States: