Message From the Managing Partner: Stephen Kaczynski
Earlier this week, we lost our retired partner Stephen Kaczynski, who passed away unexpectedly while at home with his wife, Terry.
Steve—the son of a New York City policeman—was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from St. John's University (B.A., summa cum laude 1976; J.D., cum laude 1978) and the University of Virginia (L.L.M. 1984). After law school, Steve joined U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps and served from 1979–82 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and from 1982–85 on the faculty of the Judge Advocate General's School in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Steve joined Jones Day in Cleveland in 1985 following his Army service. This was right around the time that R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company first engaged the Firm to serve as national smoking and health counsel, and Steve was instrumental in building and growing that significant Firm relationship—one that continues to this day. Steve was, first and foremost, an incredibly talented trial lawyer. In December 1985, he was part of the team that secured the Firm's first defense judgment for Reynolds in a smoking and health trial. In the 1990s, he was member of the trial teams in the State of Minnesota and State of Washington attorney general actions. In the 2000s, he was lead trial counsel in multiple trials in New York and then in many so‑called Engle-progeny actions in Florida. Over his 33 years at Jones Day, Steve was one of lawyers Reynolds looked to and trusted to try its highest-risk cases again, again, and again.
Steve showed his commitment to the Firm by emphasizing teamwork and mentoring more junior colleagues, many of whom have gone on to fill the ranks of subsequent generations of Jones Day trial lawyers. He always looked for ways to give talented junior lawyers trial opportunities and never was too busy to take the time to review and provide insightful comments on an opening, a closing, or an important cross-examination. After trials, he often gave a toast or wrote letters to the trial team in which he would talk about his childhood hero—Mickey Mantle. In one of those letters, he wrote:
Mickey Mantle (#7), hit 536 homeruns, was a three‑time American League MVP, was on seven World Series Champion Yankee teams, and won the Triple Crown in 1956. Yet, when deciding what to engrave on his plaque in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees chose, poignantly. "Mickey Charles Mantle—A Great Teammate."
The same could be said about Steve.
Steve will also be remembered for his quick mind and sense of humor. In the early 1970s, he was a contestant on ABC's "The Dating Game" and, of course, got the date, and he regularly was the entertainment at office golf outings. Steve would finish the New York Times crossword every morning before most people were awake, could quote from "Seinfeld" episodes and "The Godfather" movies at will, and had years of Yankee records and election results at his fingertips. This charm and mental nimbleness and this vast store of sports and pop-culture knowledge reflected a truly outstanding way with words and with people. He could connect with his colleagues, judges, and juries with humor, empathy, and persuasion. Steve would have been equally successful writing speeches for presidents or one‑liners for late‑night talk-show hosts. Fortunately for us, he chose to be our "Great Teammate" and put his talents to use as a trial lawyer and mentor.
His family would appreciate any donations be made to The Team Beans Infant Brain Tumor Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which was established in memory of his granddaughter, Francesca "Beans" Kaczynski: http://teambeansfund.com.
Stephen J. Brogan
May 27, 2022