Fred Kassner, cofounder of Liberty, Gogo, dead at 71

RAMSEY, N.J.--Fred Kassner, who cofounded Liberty Travel and Gogo Worldwide Vacations, died Oct. 6 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York. He was 71.

Kassner founded the agency Liberty Travel in 1951 with fellow New York University classmate Gilbert Haroche, and the two later launched the wholesale company Gogo Worldwide Vacations, a pioneer in the packaged-travel industry.

At the time of his death, Kassner was president of Gogo and chairman of Liberty Travel. He also owned Regal Cruises and two hotels--the Nevele Grand in Ellenville, N.Y., and the Renaissance Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There was no immediate word on his successor at Liberty and Gogo.

Liberty Travel is the seventh-largest travel agency in the U.S., according to the Travel Weekly's 1998 Travel Agency Survey, with $1.3 billion in sales and 200 locations in eight northeastern states and in Florida.

Gogo Worldwide Vacations, one of the nation's largest tour operators and a powerful force in the Caribbean market, operates 88 offices nationwide and also offers packages to Mexico, Hawaii, mainland U.S. and Europe. In 1996, Gogo reported sales of $1.1 billion.

In a biography issued by his company, Kassner sought to be remembered for "his commitment to providing the best travel value to people of all backgrounds and income levels."

Fresh from college, he and Haroche started Liberty Travel by specializing in the Catskills resort area of New York state and Miami. But he and Haroche wanted to bring travel--a concept then thought feasible only for the wealthy--to the masses through value-priced packages. In the late 1950s, Liberty Travel created a sister company, Keystone Tours, to act as a wholesaler. Later, the name was changed to Gogo Tours. In recent years, it was changed to Gogo Worldwide Vacations to reflect the expanding destination inventory of the company.

Kassner is survived by his wife, Gerda; two daughters, Michelle Kassner, senior vice president of Gogo, and Ellen Teitelbaum; a sister; a brother and three grandchildren. Details about memorial services were pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or another charity.

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