Local nonprofit directors dedicate their lives to the common good. photos by Keith Borgmeyer Cheryl Howard, Nora Stewart Early Learning Center As a former graduate...
How did the two of you meet?
Shannon Kasmann: Well, this is kind of cliché, but we met at our best friend’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid.
Amir Ziv: The rehearsal dinner. The night before the wedding.
S: So we can say we met in a bar since the rehearsal dinner was in a bar. It was Grill 1-5 at the time.
A: So Steven and I, who was my roommate at the time, we went to the bar because we knew the owner and everybody there, and she was there. The next day was the wedding, and the day after, we went on a motorcycle ride going 110 miles per hour down highway 94. I, at the time, had a BMW and took her on the back and she’s holding on to me. So I tapped her leg and I made her look at the speedometer and she held tighter around me.
S: And that was it. The bike ride did it.
How long have you been together?
S: Next June it’ll be 15 years. We just haven’t gotten around to the marriage part.
What brought you both to Columbia?
S: I’m originally from Columbia, but I went to school in Denver and was a ballet dancer with some modern dance troops that moved out to the West Coast. So I ended up going out there for about 10 years. I gave it up because I wanted to go snowboarding for a season, and it ended up lasting about three. I came back here and ended up getting into the family insurance agency business as a third generation. Coincidentally enough, he was in California at the same time.
A: I moved out here from Los Angeles to get into the TV business as a freelance soundman. I worked for NBC, ABC and ESPN. In the old days, they use to travel us.
S: He could keep you up all night talking about the stories he’s worked, celebrities and sports, Katrina and Joplin…
What’s your family’s relationship with animals?
S: When I started working at the agency, the Director of Second Chance was one of our customers. Within a week I was on the board. I’ve also helped cats in the community, so I wondered why I should go over there every day when I can just put them on my property.
A: I love her for that, you know? It’s one of the things that is so endearing to a certain point…
S: He kind of keeps me reigned in. We had always thought that a good continuous source of income would be to have a pet crematorium.
A: The idea came up where she insures a mortuary. They had an open house, and the owner took us on a tour and took us into the bowels of the crematorium and he had this huge wall of sample caskets. Each one was the size of a small animal, so me being the sarcastic person I am said, “Oh, so you do pets.” He said no, but that’s a good business. Now we own a crematorium.
What are your hobbies?
S: Well, he’s very entrepreneurial, so he buys and flips a lot of houses. He likes to remodel. He’s always looking to do stuff, and he has such a background from living in Israel, having an art gallery in Las Vegas and working in the oil rigs. He’s done a lot of different things.
Have you flipped anything in Columbia?
A: When I bought the building downtown on 8th and Wilkes, it had been sitting empty for eight or nine years. It was nasty and it had a “for sale by owner” sign on the front of it. I took Shannon after I bought it and said, “Honey, this is our new home.” Little by little we cleaned it, ripped the walls down and put in new appliances.
S: It turned out to be really special and New York loft-ish. There wasn’t anything like that in Columbia at the time.
A: People always passed the building and never knew what it was.
S: I love Missouri. It’s home, so maybe we’ll stay here for the rest of our lives.