Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Judge Alexander Paskay
PASKAY, Judge Alexander L., of Tampa, passed away on April 27th, 2012, at his home, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 89. Judge Paskay was born near the famous Danube river on November 5th, 1922, in Mohacs, Hungary.
In essence, the Judge was born into the legal world and it would be his number one passion for the rest of his life. His father was a prominent attorney, as well as Vice Mayor and City Attorney. Thus, Alexander and his three sisters, grew up in a state-provided castle, built in 1500 AD where he had a happy, privileged life. At home, his favorite pastime was bedeviling a long string of governesses, with his solo soccer games echoing within the massive corridors of the palace. After a Jesuit high school education, at his father's urging, he headed straight off to the University of Budapest Law School. As always, Alexander did well in his studies, but an exotic new interest entered his life in the form of music, theater and cinema. He swiftly became the youngest arts critic for the top Budapest weekly newspaper. Alexander was truly enjoying this new facet of his life, away from the dry and sterile legal bubble in which he usually lived. In fact, his father worried that his son was having too much fun, hob-nobbling with his new show business pals - especially the attractive starlets often seen on his arm. In short order, Papa Paskay ordered his son home, immediately after graduation. Once back in the family fold, Alexander worked in his father's firm by day, and studied for the Hungarian Bar at night. He easily passed his exams, but his promising legal career was abruptly derailed by World War II. He was able to keep himself out of the fray for many lucky months. But in 1944, Alexander was captured by the German Army and forced to dig trenches for the enemy on the Western Front. Along with two friends, one night he engineered an escape from their German guards and made his way through France and finally into the safe hands of British Intelligence. As the war was now ending, and because he spoke 5 languages, he became Staff Chief Interpreter for the British Army and Interpreter of the British War Crimes Commission. Until 1949 he also worked for the French Army helping to relocate displaced persons in the French Zone of Occupation. Now a war refugee himself, Paskay made sure his family in Hungary was safe and then emigrated in 1949 to the US with only 5 dollars in his pocket and the dream of starting a new life in America. Alexander ultimately settled in Miami where, the day after his arrival, he met 20 year-old, Rose Mazzaglia. Within two weeks of meeting Rose he felt he had found the woman of his dreams, and promptly proposed. Though she never actually said yes or no - the couple did marry one year later. Thus embarking on their 62 years of love and life together. In 1952, Alexander became a US citizen and, while holding down two jobs, he attended night school at the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated third in his class in 1958. During these years he and Rose had two sons, Rick and Steve. After passing the Florida Bar, Alexander was lucky once again to find employment as senior Law Clerk for Federal Judge Joseph P. Lieb. Once Alexander began working within the judicial system he became very interested in the US legal concept of bankruptcy. It was a perfect fit for his deeply held philosophy that every person deserved at least one second chance in life. In 1963, when the Court found the need for a full-time Bankruptcy Judge in the Middle District, the newly-appointed Judge Paskay and his family moved to Tampa. There the eager young jurist would begin a historic 48 year career that ended in December of 2011. Judge Paskay was a member of the American Bar Association, Florida Bar Association, Hillsborough County Bar Association, Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association and the Southwest Florida Bankruptcy Professional Association. He was admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court, 5th and 11th Circuits Courts of Appeal and all federal courts. He served in the past as Chairman of the Bankruptcy Committee of the Florida Bar and served on the Board of Governors of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. Judge Paskay also served as Vice President and was on the Board of Directors of the American Bankruptcy Institute and a faculty member sponsored by the ABI. Judge Paskay was a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, inducted into its original class at the Supreme Court in Washington DC. Judge Paskay is the author of thousands of legal opinions, publications and books including: "Creditor's Rights", "Handbook for Trustees and Receivers", co-author of the "14th Edition of Collier on Bankruptcy", and he was a principal contributing editor of "Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice". In 1979 the Judge was appointed by US Supreme Court Chief Justice Burger to the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules and Practice and served on that committee until 1984. Thereafter he was appointed to serve on the Task Force of the Administrative Office of US Courts charged with the revision of the official Bankruptcy Forms. After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Asia, Judge Paskay was appointed by the US Government to lecture on bankruptcy law in the newly emerging liberated countries of Russia, Slovakia and Albania. He was instrumental in guiding those emerging democracies in the concepts and protections needed in their bankruptcy laws being written at that time. Judge Paskay was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law since 1973. Since 1976 he was the Chairman of the annual Alexander L. Paskay Seminar on Bankruptcy Law and Practice sponsored by the Stetson University College of Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute. Since 2005, Stetson University has awarded the Alexander L. Paskay Endowment Scholarship to many of its most notable graduates. He was inducted into that school's Hall of Fame in 2007. The Judge leaves behind a loving and grieving family: his wife Rose; his sons Richard and Steven; his daughter-in-law Licia; and his sisters Martha, Lucia, Csoppi and their families. He also leaves behind hundreds of friends and admirers around the world. As well as a loving and devoted staff headed, by Ms. Mary Morrison, plus a legal legacy unmatched in the US Bankruptcy Courts. Judge Paskay was known for his sense of humor, both on and off the bench. He was also an avid tennis player until the age of 87, (yes, in this heat!). He was also a world traveler, a huge international soccer fan, and a well-known griller of killer steaks for his family on many a Saturday night. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to: the Alexander L. Paskay Endowed Scholarship at Stetson University in Gulfport, the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation in Tampa or Lifepath Hospice of Tampa. The family would like to thank the staff of the Tampa General Hospital Rehabilitation Center and the Lifepath Hospice-Burgundy Team for their loving care and support of the Judge in his final days at home. The Honorable Alexander L. Paskay has banged his gavel for the last time, but not before touching and inspiring the lives of thousands of people during his 89 years on Earth.