Bay Ridge

Family, friends, community mourn Hon. Arthur Schack

NY State Supreme Court Justice died May 2

May 3, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Arthur Schack in his chambers in a photo taken in 2015. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Tributes poured in from Bay Ridge civic leaders and elected officials as news of the death of New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack spread throughout Brooklyn.

Schack, who was a justice of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, in the 2nd Judicial District of New York, died May 2 after a lengthy illness. He was 70 years old.

Schack gained fame on the bench during the nation’s housing crisis in 2008-2009 when he took a hard line on banks seeking to foreclose on homes, a position that was seen by many as an effort by him to stand up for beleaguered homeowners who were being thrown out of their homes.

Prior to serving in New York State Supreme Court, Schack was a Civil Court judge.

Schack led a fascinating and varied life before becoming a judge. He was a teacher at Bay Ridge High School, now called the High School of Telecommunications and Technology, and an active member of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). He left teaching to become an attorney for the Major League Baseball Players Association, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Bernie Williams, Don Baylor, Dave Winfield, David Cone and Tom Glavine.

As a memento from his years as a lawyer representing baseball players, Schack kept a Louisville Slugger in his chambers in the Supreme Court building.

Schack was also a member of the Kings County American Inns of Court.

But in Bay Ridge, where Schack and his wife of 41 years Dilia Schack lived, he was known as a community leader who spent decades working to improve the lives of residents through his memberships in Community Board 10, his support of the Children’s Ragamuffin Parade and other activities designed to bring the neighborhood together.

Schack was a member of Community Board 10 from 1983 to 1998 and served as the board’s chairman from 1986 to 1989. He left the board when he became a Civil Court judge.

“Brooklyn Community Board 10 mourns the loss of Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack, a highly respected juror and devoted son of Bay Ridge,” Josephine Beckmann, the board’s district manager, told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email. “Justice Schack exemplified how giving back to the community through volunteer service can truly make a difference. His dedication to the Boy Scouts of America and numerous community organizations are shining examples of his life’s mission to serve others.”

Beckmann said that over the years, Schack attended many community board meetings with his wife, who is a current board member. He also officiated at the swearing in ceremonies of many of the chairmen who followed him.   

Schack was also active in the Boy Scouts of America and was a member of Friends of Historic New Utrecht, an organization based in Bensonhurst that works to raise pubic awareness of the rich history of the neighborhood as well as the historical significance of the New Utrecht Reformed Church, a religious institution built in 1828.

“We lost a dear friend yesterday, the Hon. Arthur Schack. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dilia and their family,” leaders of the Friends group said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Prior to his judicial career, Schack was active in politics. He was a member of the Stars and Stripes Democratic Club and often worked behind the scenes to get Democratic candidates elected to public office.

Dilia Schack is the Democratic district leader of the 46th Assembly District.

Joseph Bova, Democratic district leader of the 49th Assembly District, whose home club is the Stars and Stripes, called Schack “a renaissance man,” and said he will be missed. “The world is a little darker today and we are diminished today with the passing of Justice Arthur Schack,” he said.

In a Facebook post, another Democratic district leader, Kevin Peter Carroll, who leads the 64th AD, recalled Schack’s kindness. “Dilia and Arthur have been such great friends and mentors to me. When my father died they let me stay with them as I made calls. Their kindness can’t be expressed in a Facebook post. I am at such a loss,” he wrote.

Schack was born and raised in Bensonhurst. He attended P.S. 205, Seth Low Junior High School and Stuyvesant High School. He went to Brooklyn College and graduated with a degree in history. He earned a master’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1968. Schack worked as a high school social studies teacher from 1968 to 1982 and was a chapter chairman and delegate of the UFT from 1973 to 1982. He earned a law degree from New York Law School in 1980.

He met his wife Dilia through the UFT during his teaching days. He was a chapter leader and she was a representative for School District 15.

He worked as a counsel to the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1982 to 1998, when was elected to the New York City Civil Court of Kings County. He served there until 2003, when was elected to the New York State Supreme Court.

“I will always remember Justice Schack as a kind and compassionate and brilliant friend. Whether he was discussing his latest court decision or a major league baseball game, he did it with a style and flair of his own. Justice Schack made a positive impact on me and those he touched. I will miss him and his insight and his brilliance,” Councilmember Vincent Gentile told the Eagle.

State Sen. Marty Golden called Schack “one of our very best” and praised him for the length and depth of his public service.

“Judge Schack’s dedication to organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, the Ragamuffin Parade, and the Friends of Historic New Utrecht, to name a few, was remarkable. I trust that Artie’s legacy will live on and my family and I extend our deepest condolences to his wife Dilia and their children, Elaine and Doug,” Golden said.

During his years on the bench, Schack presided over more than 400 trials and has ruled on nearly 10,000 motions.

In an interview last year with the Eagle, he said his role as a Supreme Court justice was to “provide a level playing field for all of the sides to present their case.”

The funeral service will be held at Shermans Flatbush Memorial Chapel, 1283 Coney Island Avenue at noon on May 4. Prior to the funeral, viewing will take place from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Interment will take place at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on May 4.

The Shack family will be sitting Shiva at 8903 Ridge Blvd., on May 4, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; May 5, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and May 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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