Raymond Edward Kassar
Raymond Edward Kassar, 89, passed away peacefully at home in Vero Beach, Florida on December 10th, 2017. The cause was Lewy Body Dementia.
Born in Brooklyn in 1928, the son of immigrant parents Elizabeth Asfar and Edward Wahid Kassar, he was of Armenian, Assyrian and Syrian decent. Being the first member of his family to attend college, he went on to Brown University ('48) and the Harvard Business School ('52).
Immediately following Brown, Mr. Kassar was hired at Burlington Industries, then the world's largest textile company, where he spent more than twenty-five years. He was president of Burlington House, an Executive Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of Burlington Industries when he left the company in 1975.
In 1978, Warner Communications appointed Mr. Kassar as the president and CEO of Atari, a fledgling video game maker they had recently acquired. Ray is widely recognized to have been the driving force behind the rapid expansion of the video game industry and under his leadership Atari became the fastest growing company in the world at the time and the second most recognized brand after Coca-Cola.
In 1982, Brown University dedicated The Edward W. Kassar House in memory of Ray's father. The building currently serves as the University's Mathematics Department. Since 2002, he was a Director of the Board of the American Hospital of Paris Foundation and has served in several capacities including treasurer. He was an avid art collector, and among other interests holds one the premier collections of photo-secessionist photography in private hands. Quietly philanthropic, he has led a private life as investor and collector for the last thirty years.
Although Ray led a charmed and successful life, nothing mattered to him more than his friends and family. He was extraordinarily humble and generous of spirit and was loved and admired by all who knew him. Ray had a wonderful, gentle kindness, an ever-present sparkle in his eye and loved to laugh. Friends and associates sought and respected his wise and caring counsel and he touched and changed more lives than he would ever acknowledge. He was an avid tennis fan, never missed an opportunity to ask a woman to take the dance floor with him, and made and maintained friendships throughout his life that were self-confidently unbound by geography or standing. As anyone close to him knew, the world revolved around his beloved Vizslas who provided him comfort until the very last. He was a tremendous example of the power of positive thinking, an inspiration to be around and leaves both an enduring legacy and also a tremendous void with his passing. He will be missed.
Having lived for many years in California and New York, at the time of his death he was a resident of Vero Beach, Florida. He was pre-deceased by a brother, William Edward Kassar of Palm Beach, Florida. He is survived by his spouse, David Bruce Ferguson of Vero Beach, his cherished Vizslas, Qalb-ii and Davos, and three generations of nieces and nephews.
He will be interred at Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn, New York after a private family service. A celebration of Ray's life will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to the University of Florida Foundation (P.O. Box 14425, Gainesville, FL 32604-2425) for The Raymond E. Kassar Research Fund for Lewy Body Dementia.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 17 to Dec. 18, 2017.