My father’s gift

by | Jun 12, 2018 | Building Connections

My father and I dancing at my wedding.

My father, Harold Maass, passed down his gift for storytelling to me.

The story went something like this. My dad and his friend Marshall Wood, young bachelor lawyers in Palm Beach in the late 1940s, went out on a payday Friday to The Loggia, a Worth Avenue bar where they knew they’d run into a lot of their friends.

Marshall, feeling generous after a few rounds, reached into his pocket, pulled out his paycheck, endorsed it and slapped it on the bar, telling the bartender he was buying drinks for everyone. The liquor flowed until the wee hours, compliments of Marshall.

The next morning Marshall called my dad in a panic.

Picture from the 1950s of glamorous young professionals at a bar.

A dashing, young Harold Maass, right, out for cocktails with friends at Taboo, a Palm Beach bar similar to The Loggia, which was also on Worth Avenue. Taboo is still there today.

“Harold, I can’t seem to find my paycheck,” he exclaimed. “You were with me yesterday. Do you remember seeing me with it?”

My dad gently reminded him what he’d done with it.

“Oh, thank God!” Marshall blurted out with relief. “I thought I’d lost it!”

The way Marshall and my dad told the story, I always felt sure it was true. But in hindsight, I believe it was merely a good joke into which they’d inserted themselves as the main characters. It was a story they’d told so many times, it sounded truer with each telling.

Although he died in 2006, my father, Harold Maass, is never far from my mind.

My dad graduated from law school in 1948 and quickly became a popular figure in another sort of bar. He was the founding president of the Palm Beach County Junior Bar Association, a precursor to the Young Lawyers Division, and in 1954 he moved up to serving as president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association.

As I work to build a marketing and public relations firm that focuses on legal services and legal technology companies among other businesses, I feel proud of the fact that my dad – and my mother’s father before him – were legal pioneers in Florida. My father and my maternal grandfather, Ray Alley, founded the Palm Beach law firm of Alley Maass in 1950, more than 25 years after my grandfather moved to Florida from Minnesota to practice law.

Portraits of Raymond Alley and Harold Maass

My maternal grandfather and father were the founders of what is now Alley, Maass, Rogers & Lindsay, P.A., one of the oldest law firms in Palm Beach County, Florida. My brother Robb Maass and his son David Maass still practice there, the third and fourth generations of my family to do so.

My grandfather had been the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s president during World War II, at which time my dad was in training as Navy pilot, the war having interrupted his college education.

My dad flew a Hellcat, completing his training in July 1945, just as the war was coming to an end.

World War II Naval aviator certificate

My father finished his training as a U.S. Navy pilot in July 1945, just as World War II was ending.

After going into practice with my grandfather, Dad took the auspicious step of marrying his partner’s daughter – my mother, Nancy Alley Maass. They had six children together, of which I was the last.

While I didn’t become a lawyer, I did inherit my dad’s gift for storytelling, a talent that has been critical to my success as a professional communicator. For that, I’m extremely grateful. And even better, I’ve spent the last 10 years working with lawyers and others to make the justice system more accessible and civil legal help more available. While my dad didn’t live long enough to see me getting involved with his profession, I like to think he would be pleased.

In a letter he scrawled from bed on Oct. 17, 2006, the week before he died – a letter I was fortunate to receive from him in person, having arrived before he’d posted it — my dad told me, “We think of you often and love you very much.”

Ditto, dad. Missing you this Father’s Day.

– Nancy Kinnally, CEO, Relatable Communications Group

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