Obituary : Norman D. Cassel
Norman Douglas Cassel died on October 10 in his Vineyard Haven home. He was born on Jan. 1, 1932, in Patterson, N.J., the second of four children of Norman S. Cassel and Zeona Austin Cassel. He attended high school at Principia, in St. Louis, Mo. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees in business and engineering from Dartmouth College on an NROTC scholarship.
Sailing was an important part of Doug's life. When his family began summering on Martha's Vineyard in 1942, Doug became an avid sailor - crewing whenever he could and saving his money to buy a sailboat of his own. Soon he purchased VH I, Silverheels, the prototype of the Vineyard Haven fleet, and reveled in racing. Silverheels became a fixture at the head of the fleet, and in 1948 Doug and his crew, Jim Norton and Bob Billings, won the Sears Cup, the national junior championship, for the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club.
In the summer of 1953, when he was fleet captain at the Yacht Club, Doug met his wife-to-be, Pamela Roberts, who was head sailing counselor at the Vineyard Sailing Camp. They were married in December 1954.
Doug's service in the Navy included two deployments as Navigation and Electronics Officer on Destroyers in the Pacific fleet. His professional career with DuPont included three years in Wilmington, Del., nine years in Pasadena, Calif., seven years in Detroit, and five more back in Wilmington. During this time, he enjoyed Toastmasters, golf, and many activities with his family. Doug and Pam took their family on ski trips, and on many camping trips.
In 1967, they bought their summer home on Martha's Vineyard, at the head of the lagoon, and resumed racing at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club. Their active membership included Doug's term as Commodore. In 1974, Doug bought Selfin Corporation, a sailboat rental, from his brother John. Over the years Doug and Pam expanded the business to include windsurfing and running the Portside restaurant.
Upon taking early retirement from DuPont in 1982, Doug and Pam moved to the Island full time, purchasing their house on Weaver Lane. It became the headquarters of the family clan, with children and grandchildren coming together from the far corners of the U.S. to share the summers. They continued to expand the sailing business, renaming it Wind's Up! and adding a retail store. Wind's Up! became a connecting place for the Cassel children and many of their friends, and subsequently grandchildren and friends, who worked there over the years. Doug was active in his church and, for several years, in the Tisbury Business Association. He loved spending time with his family, watching his grandchildren grow and seeing them enjoy the Island.
Doug is survived by his wife, Pam; his siblings, Janice Burnham in Vero Beach, Fla.; John Cassel in East Fairfield, Vt.; Bruce Cassel in Brookfield, Conn. and Mattapoisett; his children, Jennifer McCurdy in Vineyard Haven; Wendy Mulhern in Seattle, Wash.; Jonathan Cassel in Vineyard Haven; and Geoffrey Cassel in Vineyard Haven and Maui, Hawaii; and grandchildren Corinna, Matthew, and Casey McCurdy, Heather and Eric Mulhern, EmmaJean Holley and Justine Cassel.
There will be a memorial service at the Christian Science Society at 123 New York Avenue in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday, October 20, at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Sail Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 1998, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.