The sound of sirens and reflection of flashing lights interrupted the rainy night, as my wife and I were sitting quietly at home. To my surprise, the ambulances stopped three doors down, at Casey Viator’s house. We feared the worst.
My fears were confirmed the next day, when Casey’s next-door neighbor came to my door and informed me that Casey had suffered an apparent heart attack, and had passed away that night, September 4th, 2013–eerily, his 62nd birthday.
Casey was one of the greatest bodybuilders who ever lived. He was, and still is, the youngest ever Mr. America, winning the title in 1971 at age 19. He also won Teen Mr. America, Mr. USA, and Jr. Mr. America as an amateur. As a pro, Casey won the 1980 Louisiana Grand Prix, Pennsylvania Grand Prix, and Pittsburgh Pro Invitational, and in 1982 placed 3rd in the Mr. Olympia contest.
Prior to his historic Mr. America win, Casey trained under the tutelage of Arthur Jones, the father of High Intensity Training and the inventor of Nautilus equipment. As Arthur’s main training “guinea pig”, Casey was instrumental in much of the Nautilus research that helped shape the field of exercise science over the years. Casey remained in contact with Arthur, and frequently visited him, up until the time of Arthur’s passing in 2007.
In addition, during his amateur competitive years, Casey befriended fellow bodybuilder Mike Mentzer, and later introduced Mike to Arthur Jones. Mike went on to have his own legendary bodybuilding career, and became the most recognizable advocate of High Intensity Training in the world. Many people in the fitness field, myself included, would never have embraced High Intensity Training if it were not for Mike Mentzer; and without Casey Viator, there would have been no Mike Mentzer as we knew him.
I first met Casey many years ago when we were both working out at World Gym in Largo, Florida. Although we both changed gyms a few times, we kept bumping into each other periodically over the years. For a while Casey lived right around the corner from me in Clearwater, and then a few years ago he moved onto my street, 3 doors down from me.
Casey and I had plenty of cool discussions over the years about his training experiences, his relationships with other bodybuilders, and his take on the past and present bodybuilding scene. He had some great, hilariously funny Arthur Jones stories. Casey was one of those guys you hear about who brightens up a whole room as soon as he enters it. He almost always had a huge grin on his face, and was the most jovial, happy-go-lucky guy I ever met. As soon as he saw you, he acted like running in to you was the best thing that happened to him all day. He was really, really funny, and always seemed to find the humor in every situation. He was still very active, still lifting, doing lots of yard work, and walking his 2 pug dogs by my house every day.
I would like to express my sincerest condolences to his girlfriend Cheryl, his family and friends, and all those suffering from the loss of a great man. The High Intensity Nation will not be the same without him.
I’m going to really miss him.
Leave a comment below about your recollections/experiences with Casey