DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Flags on all county buildings and facilities have been lowered to half-staff in honor of lifelong public servant, Bernard Kessler, former Dutchess County Court Judge, Acting Supreme Court, Surrogate Court and Family Court Justice, who passed away on Tuesday.
"He was a good and decent man, and dedicated public servant we extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends," said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
Kessler, a son of farmers, Saul and Esther Kessler, was born on Dec. 9, 1922, in Hyde Park.
While growing up, Kessler attended a one-room school for eight years on Netherwood Road where all grades were taught by one teacher. He then attended Staatsburg High School before attending Saint John’s University and Saint John’s Law School.
After school, he practiced law in New York City with a large firm while building his law practice in Hyde Park. He was appointed for many years as the attorney for the towns of Amenia, Hyde Park, Rhinebeck, Wappingers Falls and special counsel to other towns in Dutchess County.
He also represented numerous fire and water and sewer districts and served on a volunteer basis, as a special assistant attorney general, investigating election frauds. In addition, Kessler worked as a lecturer at Dutchess Community College for 14 years. He was appointed by Governor Hugh Carey to serve as Dutchess County New York State Tax Attorney, where he served for seven years.
Kessler practiced law for over 70 years and was recognized by the Dutchess County Bar as being the oldest practicing lawyer in Dutchess County.
President Ronald Regan appointed Kessler to serve on the Selective Service Board, where he served for over 20 years and a member and chairman. The president said he was doing so because of “my special trust and confidence in patriotism, fidelity, and abilities to Bernard Kessler.”
Kessler loved people and life, especially the outdoors and owned several area farms.
He is survived by daughters; Diane; (James) and Barbara, three granddaughters, and two great-grandchildren, several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He is also survived by his long-time partner, RoseMarie Castano.
There will be no funeral services. Burial will be private at the Hebrew Fraternal Benevolent Society Cemetery in Pleasant Valley.
Arrangements are entrusted to Joseph J. Darrow Sr. Funeral Home, Inc. 39 S. Hamilton St. Poughkeepsie. To send online condolences, please visit www.darrowfuneralhome.org .
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