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Obituary: Renowned car collector Judge Joseph Cassini

WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOS: CASSINI COLLECTION

Custodian of the Cassini Collection and renowned classic car enthusiast, the Hon. Judge Joseph Cassini, died on January 19, 2024. Joseph is survived by his wife, Margie, their daughter Caroline and her husband Jakob Greisen.

Joseph was born in Orange, New Jersey, on November 28, 1950. A three-time university graduate, he acquired a Bachelor of Arts in 1972, before securing an MBA and Juris Doctorate in 1976. After his education, Joseph spent his career working in the judiciary system, serving 33 years as a judge that included a 20-year sitting in the New Jersey Superior Court. 

He presided over a number of notable cases during his career, and carried out his judiciary duties with unyielding dedication to justice and impartiality. In 2012, Joseph and his wife founded an endowment to support loan repayments for the graduates of Notre Dame Law School.

He expressed a lifelong passion for automobiles, and viewed them as an escape from his demanding profession. He purchased his first classic, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird, shortly after receiving his Juris Doctorate degree. Over the next few years, Joseph continued to collect models from the 1950s and 1960s.

A landmark moment in his life as a car collector arrived in the early 1990s, when he attended his first Classic Car Club of America meeting. Here, he was introduced to pre-war machines from the likes of Packard, Stutz, Auburn and Cord. Pre-war motor cars such as these would go on to define his collection and his participation in prestigious US concours. 

This culminated in 24 entries in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, yielding 11 First in Class awards, as well as two Best of Show honours – in 2004 with a 1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet and in 2013 with a 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. Joseph was also a regular at The Amelia, with 16 entries to his name, as well as at the Hilton Head Concours. 

Another of Joseph’s achievements in the collector car world arrived in 2015, when he founded his very own concours, the Edison Concours d’Elegance, held at the former home of Thomas Edison in West Orange, New Jersey. 

“Judge Joe helped bring class and a high standard to concours as a participant and ambassador of the car hobby,” said Matt Orendac, concours event director for Hagerty and a longtime friend of Cassini. “His passion was for great cars, his family and Notre Dame football. His enthusiasm was infectious, and the Edison Concours he created years ago, which I had the honour to work with him on, was an absolute joy. He will be missed by many and celebrated for his great cars, the wonderful person he was and the incredible mark he left on the hobby.”

To plant trees in Joseph’s memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.