Howard S. Sussman

Published: 6/25/2019 3:00:52 AM
Modified: 6/25/2019 3:00:51 AM

THETFORD, VT — Howard S(ivin) Sussman, 81, of Thetford died on June 19, 2019 of heart failure. Howard, the only child of Dora (Sivin) and Joseph Sussman, was born in Manhattan on February 14, 1938, and grew up there. He attended New York City public schools, graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1954, from Princeton in 1958 and from Columbia Law School in 1962. He spent the academic year 1962-63 as a visiting scholar at the Law Faculty of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, with financial support from Columbia’s Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law and from Sweden’s Edvard Cassels Stiftelse.

On his return to New York, Howard joined the prominent Wall Street law firm Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside & Wolff, where he worked on business counseling and transactions and on complex business litigation. After some years there, he left to become an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, first representing the United States in Civil Litigation and thereafter working as a federal prosecutor. He left the U.S. Attorney’s office to teach law full time for five years as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Houston, returning to New York in 1983 where he opened his own office for the practice of law. After more than 11 years as a solo practitioner, Howard and three other lawyers formed a law firm in early 1995. Serious illness forced Howard to curtail his practice in 2000 and ultimately the firm dissolved in 2007. Howard thereafter became of counsel to another New York law firm where he remained until his death.

Howard’s year in Stockholm had a profound influence on his life, both personally and professionally. He developed a deep love for Swedish life, culture and history, and for the Swedish language in which he was fluent. Until his death he enjoyed many friendships in Sweden and represented a significant number of Swedish clients in their American business activities. In his later years, when he was no longer trying cases, Howard continued to give business advice, to represent clients in transactions of various kinds, and to spend a great deal of his time teaching Swedish lawyers about Anglo-American cross-examination technique, translating Swedish materials, writing (with a Swedish co-author) a book on cross-examination in international arbitration, and doing a variety of other legal and language-related work. Howard served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce-New York from 1996 to 2008 when he reached the mandatory retirement age from that board.

In 1998, at the age of 60, Howard had an overwhelming spiritual encounter at an Episcopal church in Tucson. Two days later, on the airplane in which he was flying to Houston on his way back to New York, Howard met Margaret Gilmore who was sitting next to him and with whom he had a lively and wide-ranging conversation during the two-hour flight to Houston, where they changed planes and exchanged cards. These two totally unexpected and profoundly impacting events led Howard to study and reflection and ultimately to his baptism in the Episcopal Church at Easter 2001, an extraordinary blessing for which he was profoundly grateful.

Margaret and Howard were married in the Fall of 2001, commuted between Tucson and New York for two years, and starting in 2003, lived in Tucson full time. In 2002 however, while vacationing here in the Upper Valley, where Howard had been at summer camp from 1947 to 1956, they discovered St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Fairlee, VT. Their relationship with Vermont and with St. Martin’s grew, in part during the summers of 2005 and 2006 which they spent on a farm in East Corinth, and even more so beginning at the start of 2007 when they moved to Vermont full time, first living on the farm, then in a condo in Wilder, and at last settling in the house they bought in Thetford in 2008. Howard has served on the vestry of St. Martin’s for many years, starting in 2009.

Howard loved the outdoors and so long as his health permitted, was actively engaged in hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing and other outdoor activities, here in Vermont and New Hampshire and also in many other places in this country and abroad. He also greatly enjoyed music and reading, especially in the areas of history, biography, philosophy and religion, as well as spending time with friends. He served on the Thetford Town School Board from 2010 to 2014, and was active in the community in many other ways.

Howard is survived by Margaret, who is well-known here in the Upper Valley as superb ‘cellist and an outstanding teacher. A memorial service will be held at St. Martin’s on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Howard’s memory to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Fairlee or to Columbia’s Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law.

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