Antouine James Castaneda, of Phoenix, Arizona, died on July 23, 2015. Antoine’s family includes his 2 daughters: Vanessa (6 yrs. old) and Viviana (4 yrs. old); parents: Rick and Sarah Castaneda, and Natalie and Todd Elyea; brother, Dustin Castaneda (Amanda Norwood); former wife, Sharon Castaneda; grandparents: Yvonne Becker, Stan Worden, Pat Worden, Matthias and Frances Eichhorn, and Jane and Robert Elyea, great-grandmother, Beatrice Worden; 2 nephews: Logan and Jaxon Castaneda; several loving aunts and uncles; and his military family. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Thursday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900 where services will be held Friday at 11:00 a.m. Burial with Military Honors provided by his Platoon’s honor guard will follow at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Antouine’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Soldier’s Best Friend.
Funeral for Ranger Antouine Castaneda
Thursday 13 August 1600-2000 visitation
6080 Stadium Dr.
Friday 14 August
Ft. Custer National Cemetery
15501 Dickman Rd.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Antouine Castaneda would agree that he was larger than life. A brave man of honor and courage, he accomplished a great many things of which to be proud, but he was a humble, generous, and selfless person who would do anything for anyone. Antouine would say that his greatest accomplishment was becoming a father, and since he was a kid at heart he loved nothing more than goofing around with his girls. He was a loving and kindhearted man who was quick to forgive, never holding a grudge. With a smile always at the ready, Antouine was a stranger to none and a friend to all. Life will never be the same within him here, but his spirit will remain a vibrant presence in the hearts and lives of all who were within his reach.
The 1980s were a time unlike any other in American history. We were on the brink of the age of technology with several noteworthy accomplishments that moved us forward. Video game systems, camcorders, and the first cellular phones emerged while names like David Hasselhoff, Michael J. Fox, and Madonna became part of our world. Amidst this exciting time was an exciting time in the lives of Rick and Natalie Castaneda for a much different reason as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their second child as the heat of the summer held Allegan, Michigan, firmly in its grip in July of 1983. The big day finally arrived when the baby boy they named Antouine James drew his first breath on July 23rd. He was 16 months younger than his brother, Dustin, and experienced a typical upbringing.
As a young boy Antouine was full of life. He was a talented skateboarder, along with his brother, and seemed to be out boarding all day every day. Antouine also snowboarded and played a variety of sports in which he excelled. His parents divorced when he was in middle school, and he later went to the Chicago area to live with his father. While there, Antouine attended Bartlett High School where he played basketball. He loved hanging out with his friends, skateboarding, working out, and really got into nutrition. Antouine generally ate healthy and drank plenty of milk, but he usually ran through Burger King after a workout to get two Whopper Jr sandwiches, or “fat boy cake,” as he called them. Of course he still ate dinner at home, too!
The day after graduating from high school in 2001, Antouine enlisted in the Army and spent a substantial amount of time at Fort Benning, Georgia. He went on to Ranger school and was in Iraq for the invasion. As part of the 75th Ranger Regiment for four years, Antouine was sent to the Northern region to take over an airfield. He completed three tours in Iraq in addition to one tour in Afghanistan. Known as “Cas,”Antouine became a sergeant and was among the best of the best. Recently, he was one of the four Army Rangers who were selected to be a part of the 60th anniversary celebration. He and his fellow Rangers reenacted the D-Day invasion by parachuting onto the beach of Normandy. Antouine woke up every day and said,
"Rangers lead the way,” 10 times. He then went on to work in security with Blackwater Worldwide at the highest level of security. Throughout his three years there, Antouine, who was known as “Lips,” put his life on the line for dignitaries several times.
Not to be forgotten during Antoine’s years in school was his introduction to fellow classmate, Sharon Smith. He usually called her “Bugsy,” and they became high school sweethearts. They dated for several years and on August 4, 2007, they were married. They made their home in Mesa, Arizona, and built a new home complete with a pool, an enormous 72 inch television, and the big marlin that he caught while on his honeymoon. Together they were blessed with two daughters, Vanessa and Viviana, who are six and four, respectively. Antouine loved nothing more than being a father, and his girls were the light of his life. They called him “King James” since they frequently played princess together, and every night he read them books and also sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When they weren’t playing dress up, Antouine and his girls loved going to the zoo or swimming, swinging, or doing gymnastics together. Although his marriage ended in divorce last year, he was forever grateful for their girls.
Antouine was a lover of life and a man of many interests. He was a great cook whose specialties included pasta, chicken, and cookies, and he loved cheese, cheese pizza, Mexican food, and hot wings - the hotter the better! Every morning Antouine started his day with peaches and cream oatmeal and egg whites, and he also had cases of granola bars on hand and also enjoyed protein shakes. Thanksgiving usually found him deep frying a turkey. Antouine had the time of his life on a 21 day primitive backpacking vacation to Brazil. He liked Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, and lots of water, reading military history, all types of music, stars, and all the Disney movies. In fact, Antouine was known for his ability to recite lines from Lion King and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. He was impossible to defeat when it came to playing Medal of Honor, and his dogs were very special to him.
The sort of person everyone immediately loved, Antouine Castaneda was a blessing in every way. He had the biggest heart with a quick wit and a drive to excel in everything he did. Someone who was generous with the homeless, especially around the holidays, Antouine was completely selfless as he lived to serve others. He adored his daughters, and he was the best dad around as his devotion to his daughters was unmatched. Antouine had been in school working toward becoming a counselor for troubled teens after serving his country for numerous years. His life cut much too short, he will be forever missed but never forgotten.