LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Charles S. "Charley" Cassis, a founding partner at the law firm Frost Brown Todd and native of Huntington, died Friday following a short illness.

Cassis was born in Huntington and graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1963. He served as counsel to the Kentucky Bar Association before founding Brown, Todd & Heyburn -- Frost Brown Todd's legacy firm -- with 14 other members.

"The bar has lost an exceptional lawyer, and we have lost an honored leader, beloved mentor and a very good friend," Frost Brown Todd Chairman Emeritus and longtime partner, C. Edward Glasscock said in a statement following his passing.

"Charley will be greatly missed, but he left very deep footprints."

Cassis, who specialized in general trial litigation, environmental law as it relates to toxic torts and appellate work, quickly became one of the leading attorneys in the country and the firm is now one of the largest in the region, with nearly 450 lawyers across five states, including West Virginia.

In 1999, he was part of the legal team that successfully completed a four-month trial involving five individual plaintiffs against three major tobacco manufacturers -- the first consolidated case of individual plaintiffs in the U.S. He also successfully defended the tobacco industry against national labor unions.

During his career, Cassis represented some of the most recognizable companies in the world, including Liberty Mutual Insurance, Westing-house Electric, Black & Decker Corporation, General Electric Company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron, Marathon Oil Company and Motorola, Inc.

"Clients often praised Charley's longstanding work on their behalf, particularly his 'special touch with local juries' and his 'street smarts,'" John R. Crockett, III, chairman of Frost Brown Todd, said in a statement.

"He handled product liability, toxic torts, insurance, securities and environmental litigation like a true professional."

Cassis was a member of the American Bar Association, West Virginia Bar Association and Kentucky Bar Association. He also was a founding member of the Kentucky Bar; life fellow of the American Bar; former president of the U.S. Law Firm Group; and member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

He also was voted Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business numerous times, an honor given by other practitioners in the field.

Even Kentucky's governor, Steve Breshear, commented on Cassis' passing.

"Whether it was through his commitment to his family, the legal profession or civic engagement, Charley Cassis was a towering figure who lived his life for the benefit of others," Breshear said.

"Jane and I loved Charley and our prayers are with his family and partners in this time of loss. Kentucky is a better place because Charley Cassis lived here. We will miss him dearly".

Cassis is survived by his wife of 46 years, Nancy Hardin Cassis, and his two sons, Charles H. "Chuck" Cassis (Tami) and Bryan M. Cassis, two grandchildren, Clare Elizabeth Cassis and John Harding Cassis, a brother Joseph A. Cassis, and several nieces and nephews.

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