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James A. Cashen

October 4, 2019 03:12 pm Updated: October 4, 2019 03:46 pm

(1933-2019) James Aloysius Cashen, III, 86, died peacefully on October 3, 2019, surrounded by loved ones.

Born in New York City, Jim moved to Eastchester, NY in 1935, where he lived with his parents, brother Tony and extended family. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1955 and Cornell Law School in 1958, where he met his future wife, Meg. They married in 1959 and moved to Long Island to start a family. Jim worked as a labor lawyer in public and nonprofit settings. He worked for AFSCME, Dewey, Ballentine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, and Blue Cross and United Hospital Fund in New York.

Jim served on the Boards of numerous organizations including Catholic Charities, the House of Peace; Camphill Village, Copake; Camphill Triform; Hawthorne Valley Association; Friends of Hudson; Columbia Opportunities; the Town of Claverack Zoning Board of Appeals; and numerous others.

Meg and Jim moved to Claverack in 1973 when he took a position with the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors that he held until 1982 when he was appointed Commissioner of the NYS Commission on Quality Care for the Mentally Disabled until 1991. He then worked for the NYC School Construction Authority, the NYS Civil Service Commission, and as a labor arbitrator and Administrative Law Judge for several years before his retirement.

While Jim loved the law, his true passion was meeting and connecting people through shared interests in social justice, locally and nationally. He was known to bring home “new friends” that he met along his travels for a meal and an overnight. He and Meg took in dozens of people from across the country and globe over the years, providing a warm meal, temporary housing and friendship for life. Many of these guests stayed way longer than a meal and an overnight. They hosted and fostered and sheltered and opened their home to so many. As a result, the real Cashen family was enormous. True, Jim had nine children, 21 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. But his family reaches far beyond that. Many called the Cashen’s house on Roxbury Road “home.”

He really loved showing off his family, his farm, his land - the community that he helped build. On a good night, you would find him sitting back in his chair after a big holiday meal with extended guests and visitors, hands folded over his belly, a dog at his feet. He would be smiling watching others connect. “God it’s good to be alive,” he would say. He meant it.

Jim is survived by his wife, Meg, and their nine children: Jim (Elise), Katy, Betsy, Joey, and Chris (Katie), all of Claverack; Kelly (Larry) of Ghent; Judy of Colorado Springs, Meg (Eric) of Lewisburg, PA; and Jenny of Jackson, WY, 21 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild (so far!). Two of his sons-in-law (Chris and Piers) passed way too early to his great sadness. He is also survived by his devoted brother Tony (Gail) from Ithaca.

The family will be holding an open house at their home, 81 Roxbury Road, in Claverack, on Sunday, October 6 from 2 pm to 6 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene Counties, Genesis Farm, Blairstown, NJ, or House of Peace, Ipswich, MA. A Mass will be held on Monday, October 7 at 11 a.m. at St. James Church in Chatham with the Reverend George Fleming officiating.