Frederick S. “Fritz” Cassman Obit 1/30/19 01/30/19 12:03:14 PM
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Frederick S. “Fritz” Cassman‘He Never Wasted a Second of His Life’
Sept. 26, 1925 – Jan. 20, 2019
Frederick “Fritz” Cassman, one of the first members of Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman law firm, has died at 93.
The firm was established in 1944 when Creighton University law school graduates Milton R. Abrahams and Ben E. Kaslow combined their legal practices.
A new Harvard law school graduate, Cassman joined the firm in 1949 as the third partner.
Howard J. Kaslow, a partner in the firm and the son of Ben Kaslow, remembered his friend, colleague and mentor.
“We’ve been partners since I joined the firm in 1964. We had a long and close relationship. His passing is part of the end of an era. Just recently, we’ve lost attorneys Harold Rock and Dick Croker and others and now Fritz.”
Kaslow said Cassman was practicing law “well into his 80s. He was a terrific lawyer.”
In fact, another veteran member of the firm, John W. Herdzina, said, “Fritz retired so many times that at one of his parties, we announced, “Welcome to the annual Fritz Cassman retirement party!”
The humor was not lost on Cassman, who had a reputation for being a practical joker extraordinaire, pranks that dated back to his youth. Growing up in Freeport, Illinois, a small town outside of Chicago, he once climbed the roof of the house and sprayed passers-by with a hose, his daughter Amy Friedman said. “He was a rascal.”
He loved small town life, she said. He was proud to be a “Pretzel,” his high school’s mascot. “Yes, he was a Pretzel!” she said. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois, then went to Harvard Law School.
Friedman told of the time her father and a friend hopped a freight train in Illinois and rode it to California. On the return trip, they hopped a coal train and her father decided to stop in Omaha to visit relatives on his mother’s side. The family was horrified when they saw the two boys, covered with coal soot. They made them go to the “Y” to shower before they let them in the house.
Kaslow said, “He was loved for his sense of humor. He loved practical jokes, always in a kind way. He always had a smile on his face. And I don’t ever remember having a cross word between us. He was loved, admired and respected by all who knew him.
“He was always willing to help, to lend his expertise. His door was always open.”
Herdzina, who joined the firm in 1972, agreed.
“He was a character,” he said. “He left the world better off. Fritz was a tough litigator, but he always treated people with respect.”
Herdzina recalled the time Cassman strode into the office demanding “Where’s Frank?”
“We reminded him that Frank was on his annual week of solitude at Lake Okoboji,” Herdzina said. “He was adamant that he never be disturbed while he was there. But Fritz insisted that he needed him. He said to me, ‘Come on, we’re going there to get him.’ I said it would take hours to get there and he said, ‘Oh no, we’re not driving. We’re flying.’
“He had a plane, a Rockwell Commander, that he loved to fly. So we flew up there, hired someone to drive us to the lake cabin and surprised Frank, saying, ‘We came to get you.’ Frank was shocked, then caught on and we all cracked up.”
Cassman’s wife of nearly 68 years, Molline, was not a big fan of flying at first, but Herdzina said she finally learned how to land the plane and felt better.
Eventually, “she learned to love it.”
Friedman remembered the time a rookie lawyer expressed his concern about his first jury trial.
“My dad told him not to worry, he’d be with him all the way,” she said. “He said, ‘I’ll even drive you there.’ The trial was in Fremont.
“While they were getting set up in the courtroom, the young lawyer turned around and my dad was nowhere in sight. He had left and driven back to Omaha. I don’t know how that lawyer got back! He threw him in the deep end.”
While his firm handled tough cases, she said he made sure everyone had a good time. “He never wasted a second of his life.”
In addition to his wife Molline and daughter Amy, he is survived by his sons Joel and Bob Cassman, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Services were held Sunday, Jan. 27, at Temple Israel, Sterling Ridge. Memorials are suggested to Temple Israel, Rose Blumkin Jewish Home (where he spent the past two years) or his favorite civic service organization, Nebraska Appleseed.
– By Lorraine Boyd