Haskell “Hackey” Kassler passed away on November 21, 2017 after a short illness at the age of 81. Born in Boston on February 8, 1936, he was a longtime resident of Brookline and practiced law for over 55 years in Boston. Hackey had a broad distinguished professional career, specializing in entertainment, family and civil rights law. He was a founding partner of Kassler and Feuer, later joining Casner and Edwards as partner and senior member of its Family and Probate Law Group. He also served as a conciliator, mediator and handled unique appeals in family and probate law. He was an expert in election law, recounts and litigations in Massachusetts. He participated in significant national election disputes and has written numerous articles and lectured on election law.
In 1964 as part of the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee, he was a volunteer lawyer in the Freedom Summer voter registration drive in Mississippi. While representing students harassed by police, he was arrested and jailed for “assault and battery on a police officer”. US Attorney General Robert Kennedy secured his release and the Department of Justice escorted him across state lines. In 1965, Hackey volunteered again to work on voter registration in New Orleans and Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Hackey was a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He received the Massachusetts Chapter’s Haskell A. Freedman Award for service to the Bench and Bar and the Advancement of the Practice of Family Law. He also received the ORT Jurisprudence Award. He was a member of the Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court. He was named in the Best Lawyers of America publication and was identified by Boston Magazine as a Super Lawyer in Family Law and one of the top 100 lawyers in Massachusetts.
Hackey received his BA from Tufts University and his JD from Boston University School of Law. He was admitted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bar, the United States Supreme Court, the US Court of Appeals, First and Fifth Circuits, and US District Courts of Massachusetts, Northern Mississippi and Southern Louisiana.
He was an Assistant State Attorney General, Council to the NE Region American Jewish Congress and Director of Legal Services Voluntary Defender Committee. Most recently he mentored young lawyers in the Volunteer Lawyers Project, introducing them to the probate court system.
Hackey’s contributions to community and public affairs are many. He served as Chairman Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Committee; Trustee University of Massachusetts; Chairman Massachusetts Local Redistricting Commission; and Member University of Massachusetts Building Authority. In his hometown of Brookline, Hackey was an elected Town Meeting Member for over twenty-five years and was elected to the Board of Selectman. He also served as Chairman of the Brookline Civil Rights Commission. He was a member and officer of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee.
Hackey was known for his big smile, sense of humor, warm charm, love of politics and grass roots campaigning. Hackey always put family first. He was a loving husband, an adoring father and most enthusiastic grandfather. He enjoyed spending time at their home on the Cape in Wellfleet. He loved ice cream and Asian food and was an avid fan of the Boston Celtics and Red Sox. He was always willing to take an active and progressive stand – particularly for civil rights, equality and social justice. He had an innate ability to focus on issues and forge resolutions. Hackey taught by example about peace, love and doing the honorable thing with patience and wisdom.
Hackey was the son of the late Harry Kassler and Natalie Steinberg Kassler. Hackey is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary Kelligrew Kassler; his daughter Marion Kassler Canavan and husband Paul Canavan of Quincy, MA; his daughter Sarah Kassler and husband Sylvain Delboy of Paris, France; his brother Howard M. Kassler and wife Diana A. Kassler of Boston, MA; and five grandchildren: Carmela Canavan, Cameron Canavan, Zoé Delboy, Charlotte Canavan and Lou Delboy as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and good friends. A memorial service will be held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston 02125 on Sunday, December 3 at 12 noon. Following the service a reception will be held until 3:00pm. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 125 Broad St, 18th Floor, New York, NY, 10004 and the Southern Law Poverty Center, 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL, 36104.