In Memoriam: Claude Cazzulino, Longtime NLG-Los Angeles Member

Claude Cazzulino.

Claude Cazzulino, a resident of Pasadena for more than 33 years, passed away on February 26, 2021 during his daily neighborhood walk with the family’s standard poodles, Spoon and Vito. He was 66 years old. 

Claude was born in Queens, New York, the oldest son of Joseph and Clara Cazzulino, and grew up in Lloyd Harbor on Long Island, with his parents and brother Dana. He spent his summers swimming and sailing in the Long Island Sound, clamming in the shallow waters along the shore, and playing tennis, baseball and other sports  In high school, he played the French horn in the jazz band, excelled at soccer and tennis, and developed a reputation as a smart, kind and friendly person.

Claude graduated from Brown University in 1976, with a degree in history and fluency in German developed during his junior year abroad in Gottingen. After Brown, Claude was a reporter for the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he covered city council, planning and zoning meetings and performed the grunt work of a cub reporter with humor and poise. According to one of his colleagues, Claude was as cool and even-tempered on duty as he was off, and he was one of the best writers at the paper.

In 1981, Claude entered Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, where he thrived in the school’s “co-op” program, learning labor law in the classroom and on the job during internships with a Milwaukee union law firm and with the National Labor Relations Board in Boston. He also met his wife, Theresa Traber, at Northeastern and, after their graduation in 1984, the two of them moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers and start a family. Claude and Theresa had two children, Francesca Cazzulino of San Diego and Niko Cazzulino of Pasadena.

For more than 32 years, Claude was an attorney and partner at Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann and Sommers LLP, where he advised labor organizations and their health care and pension trust funds. He worked diligently to ensure that workers and their families received the full measure of their hard-earned benefits. He advised public sector and private sector employee benefit plans. He authored an article on domestic relations and employee benefit plans and was a contributing editor to the American Bar Association’s treatise on Employee Benefits Law. He loved his work, his clients, and his colleagues at the firm.

Claude devoted himself to his community by acting as a board member at Sequoyah School in Pasadena, chaperoning school camping trips, and acting as a coach and referee for AYSO soccer teams. He was an avid swimmer, participating in the Masters Swimming Team for more than ten years, a confident skier, and a potter who created beautiful cups, bowls and other gifts for family and friends.  He loved to hike, camp, and travel and enjoyed many trips with Theresa, his children and extended family. 

Claude faced a new challenge in 2017 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  After a surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Claude’s condition stabilized, and he regained much of his strength and stamina. His calm resolve and persistent good humor were inspirational to all who encountered him during the years since his diagnosis. Through it all, he was courageous, loving, upbeat, kind and forward-looking. 

In the last week of his life, Claude worked in the local pottery studio, walked the dogs, planted flowers in the backyard, did his physical therapy exercises, played and cared for his grandson, Ezio, helped with dinner and kitchen chores and had a long and satisfying telephone conversation with his 93-year-old mother, Clara Cazzulino of Chapel Hill, NC, who survives him. In addition to his wife, children, and grandchild, Claude is survived by his brother Dana Cazzulino of New York, NY, as well as many loving nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts, in-laws and friends.  He will be sorely missed.