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Norman Brisson, 80

Lawyer, judge

Norman Brisson,

lawyer, judge; at 80

PLAISTOW, N.H. -- Judge Norman Brisson , a former District Court presiding justice in Haverhill, Mass., died Oct. 20 at his home in Plaistow . He was 80.

Judge Brisson was born and raised in Newton, Mass., and graduated from Newton North High School.

He served in the Navy during World War II, and was on one of the first ships to land at Normandy during the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944.

After the war, he completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, graduating in 1948, and then obtained his law degree at the Boston University School of Law.

He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1956, and began his law practice in Haverhill, joining the firm of Karelitz, Cohen, Brisson, and White.

In 1972, he was appointed clerk magistrate of the Haverhill District Court .

Seven years later, he was appointed the presiding justice of Central District Court of Northern Essex. He held this position in the court's Haverhill division until his retirement in 1996.

"He made a significant impact in the courthouse and the community," said Sheila Kenyon , head administrative assistant in the judge's lobby of Haverhill District Court , who knew Judge Brisson for the 17 years he served as presiding justice.

After retiring from his judicial duties, he returned to private law practice with the firm of LaFlamme, Migliori, Barron & Chabot in Haverhill .

"He was a compassionate and understanding judge," said Myrna Nogast , in an excerpt from the remarks she prepared for a memorial celebration of Judge Brisson's life Wednesday in Haverhill . "He knew his city and his people," Nogast continued. "He championed the poor and underprivileged."

Nogast, assistant court magistrate at Haverhill District Court, added that Judge Brisson enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the legal system, and "liked nothing better than to have a group of students observe a criminal session in his court."

Judge Brisson lived in Haverhill until 1987, when he moved to Plaistow .

He was a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Haverhill Bar Association . Last year, the Haverhill Bar awarded Judge Brisson its US Supreme Court William H. Moody Award for his service to the legal profession.

Judge Brisson also served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitrators Association . He was a member of the Haverhill Boys Club 's board of directors and belonged to the Haverhill Country Club for several years.

He was the husband of Joan (Karelitz), who died in 1996.

Judge Brisson leaves his wife, Margaret C. (Greenler) of Plaistow; three daughters, Nancy Goracy of Pottersville, N.J. , Gail Sagris of Ipswich , Mass., and Beth Brisson Kirk of New Bedford, Mass. ; two step daughters, Jane Barry of Plaistow and Nancy Torney of Palm Harbor, Fla. ; a step son, David Meader of Georgetown, Mass. ; and three grandsons.

The memorial to Judge Brisson's life was held at the Haverhill Country Club . Private burial was in the Children of Israel Cemetery in Haverhill .

John Phelan, 79,

Haverhill salesman

HAVERHILL -- John Edward Phelan, a retired insurance salesman, died Oct. 17 at his Haverhill home after an illness. He was 79.

Mr. Phelan was born in Lawrence. After graduating from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence , he went on to study at Northeastern University.

A Navy veteran, Mr. Phelan served in the South Pacific during World War II.

After the war, he spent most his working career selling insurance for the John Hancock Insurance Co. and industrial equipment for Lynn Hardware .

After a brief retirement, Mr. Phelan decided to use his talents to assist children with special needs in the Haverhill school system, continuing in that role until 2000.

In addition to being a life member of the Elks Lodge in Haverhill, he belonged to the Holy Name Society at St. James Church in Haverhill .

Mr. Phelan was an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren play team sports. He also liked to listen to music, especially Hawaiian music, which reminded him of his favorite travel destination.

When he wasn't spending time in his beach house in Seabrook, N.H. , family members said, Mr. Phelan's favorite activity was Friday-night card games, a ritual for him for 35 years.

Mr. Phelan leaves his wife of 55 years, Shirley M. (Fecteau); two sons, John E. Jr. of Hopkinton and Edward of West Hartford, Conn. ; a daughter, Kathleen of Haverhill ; a sister, Mary Nedeau of Haverhill ; and five grandchildren.

A funeral Mass was said Oct. 21 in St. James Church , with burial at St. James Cemetery in Haverhill.

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