Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paul J. Hassett, Jr.

My father died last week. He was an extraordinary man and I'm very proud to share these memories:

Obituary appearing in Columbus, Pittsburgh and Syracuse:

Paul J. Hassett, Jr. 83, of Columbus, Ohio died October 18 at his home, surrounded by family. Born July 22, 1924 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he attended Cornell University, served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, including service in Germany, prior to his honorable discharge as Staff Sergeant, then returned to college, completing a BS in Accounting at Syracuse University in 1948, and an LLB at Cleveland-Marshall Law School in 1953. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1953 and earned an MS in Education at Duquesne University in 1975. He joined the American Steel and Wire Division of US Steel in 1948 and worked in several accounting and tax positions until retiring from US Steel as a tax attorney in 1984. He later served as a tax auditor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was a devout Roman Catholic and an active member of every community in which he lived serving as President of the Religious Education Program at St. Josephs, Auburn, MA., cofounder of a tutoring program operating from the Frederic Ozanam Center in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, cofounder of BRIC, a not-for-profit corporation established to rehabilitate low income housing in Pittsburgh, and President of the St. Vincent De Paul Society of St. Thomas More Parish in Bethel Park, PA where he was a communicant for many years. He lettered in football at Cornell and was an accomplished golfer and all-around athlete who coached youth sports in many communities. He was a devoted and loving husband and father who will live on in the loving memory of his family. He is survived by Ann Taber Hassett, his wife of 55 years, his children, Michael Hassett and Ilene Karpf of Scotch Plains, NJ, Mary Ellen Hassett-Elam and Mark Elam of Whitehall, OH, Paul J. Hassett, III of Whitehall, OH and Corrine Anne Hassett and Christian Reitmeyer of East Lyme, CT, his sister Mary Katherine Hassett and his four grandchildren Matthew, Shannon, John and Joseph. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 AM, Monday, October 22 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 4383 E. Broad St., Columbus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Family Life and Education Building Fund, St. Thomas More Parish, 126 Fort Couch Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15241 or the Alzheimer’s Association National Office, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601.

Eulogy from his younger daughter, Corey:

My father wore many hats during his life – husband, brother, uncle, friend, co-worker, volunteer. But, only four of us had the privilege to call him “dad”.

As I became an adult and now progress into the early stages of parenting myself, I begin to realize what a privilege that was. I begin to understand the sacrifices our parents made for us, the things that they gave up to give us opportunities and how lucky we are to have had their guidance. If there is one trait that sets my dad and mom apart, it is their ability to lead by example. Dad never lectured on what was important in life or how we should set about doing a task. He simply did what he thought was right and expected the same of us.

He didn’t tell us it was important to go to church – he went to church unfailingly and volunteered his precious free time whenever possible.

He never spoke about the value of a strong work ethic. Instead, he unceremoniously went to work everyday and provided amply for his family.

He didn’t address the need for family time. He simply spent time with us, ever present in our lives, never missing a game, dance recital or ceremony we were in.

Dad didn’t pontificate about the importance of education. He educated himself, encouraged us to become educated and provided the means for us to do so.

He didn’t talk about giving back to the community; he just gave back himself, volunteering with the elderly and underprivileged. He made sure we went along and learned to appreciate what we had and be sensitive to those not as fortunate as ourselves.

His expectations of us were high and he wasn’t perfect, but in his understated manner, he & Mom provided us with the tools we needed to live full, productive lives. They showed us to always move forward, accept the disappointment and failure that will inevitably occur in life, but more importantly to appreciate the good in ourselves, in our family, in faith and in the world.

When I reflect on his life, I am filled with pride, respect and love for the father that he was and the way in which he chose to live his life. There was much to learn from him and we are thankful for the time we had with him.

Not surprisingly, Dad didn’t talk much about his Irish heritage, except to enjoy a beer and a good joke. But, we are Irish and I would like to leave him with this:
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again, Dad
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Eulogy from his older son, Michael:

Thank you for coming today to honor and remember my father Paul J. Hassett, Jr.

Dad was many things, athlete, soldier, scholar, accountant and lawyer but close to his heart was the role of teacher. Not just teaching in the classroom, although Dad earned a Masters in Education and taught in community college, but teaching informally, whenever the moment was right.
- A quiet man, Dad really enjoyed talking when he could explain something to an interested listener.
- A patient man, Dad could watch as a child learned by trial and error.
- A dignified, self-possessed man, Dad could remain silent as those who knew less spoke more.

In fact, Dad was such a great teacher that even a know it all couldn't help learning a few things.. ...despite my best efforts.

Let's start with this picture.
I'm the little guy. I was nervous about that big fish, but not afraid, because I knew exactly where to hide. Right behind Dad. That was Dad 1.01 – provide safety, food, clothing, shelter, education and and do it so consistently, so automatically, that they are taken completely for granted. Thanks Dad.

Dad 2.01 was the vacation. We learned thrift... or maybe Dad just really loved that 25 year old tent. We learned iron self control.... because there was no such thing as a rest stop until the gas gage was on empty. We learned to stay close to our family, even when we lived hundreds of miles away.

Dad 3.01 came on the golf course. I was 9 or 10 and I thought Dad really wanted a caddy every week. Now I realize he was losing a stroke or two every round to the distractions I created, just so I could spend time with him. I also learned that some golfers actually curse a little bit.... but not Dad. I'm not sure if this was because of his good taste or good morals....or maybe it was just because Dad almost never hit a bad shot.

In high school I got the advanced course in Dad. It was the late 1960's, when you couldn't trust anyone over 30. Other kids were rebelling against their parents, I was working for my Dad; working as a tutor in Pittsburgh's Hill District in a program Dad helped to create; working stripping wallpaper in houses his not for profit company was rehabilitating to provide low income housing. Dad lived his beliefs to an extraordinary degree, there was just no trace of hypocrisy to rebel against. All you could do with Dad was hope to come close to the standard he set someday.

Dad was a wonderful, loving and unique brother, husband, father and friend. He will live on in our the lessons we will never forget.

Intentions from his funeral service, prepared by his wife, Ann:

Lord, we thank you for the quiet, productive life of your servant, Paul. We pray to the Lord.

We thank you for your help and guidance through Paul’s long illness. We pray to the Lord.

Lord, Thank you for the Sisters, Clergy, nurses, doctors and health care workers who have helped and guided us. We ask your continued blessing on their work. We pray to the Lord.

Lord, bless Paul & Ann’s children, their spouses, family members and dear friends who have laughed with Ann, cried with Ann and always prayed for us. We pray to the Lord.

Lord, we ask your help for Paul’s family, that they may remember the good times and be consoled by your grace. We pray to the Lord.

Lord, as we remember those who have gone before: Paul’s parents - Paul & Anne, his brother Robert, his sister Anne and her husband Joseph and nieces Margaret & Janie, we ask the eternal joy of Heaven for Paul and for them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in Peace. We pray to the Lord.

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