Kauders ’71 Remembered as Role Model for Sightless and Sighted Alike

Chris Kauders ’71 is remembered by family and friends as a role model for sightless and sighted alike. Legally blind since birth, Kauders, who lived in Marblehead, was 65 when he died of lymphoma July 31 in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 

According to close friend and fellow Shore alumnus Chris Abbott ’72, “Chris Kauders was a giant of a man; he was a devoted husband, father, and friend, a tireless advocate for the disabled, a fierce defender of right and wrong, and a mentor, hero, and role model to many.”

Abbott was among the Shore classmates who gathered at the Eastern Yacht Club following a memorial service for Kauders held at the Old North Church in Marblehead on August 27. Among the Shore alumni present were Lisa Crockett ’71, Polly Hewson ’71, Susan Poor ’72, P ’10, ’13, Becky Putnam ’71, Ben Sprague ’71, and Susan Walker ’72.

Said Abbott, “I have never met a person who was so at ease meeting strangers—virtually all of whom became friends. His relationships with his seeing eye dogs, who he often claimed were his eyes, were the greatest example of pure and unadulterated love. He was a dear friend, taken much too early, and a one-of-a-kind person whom nobody will forget. His cherished memory will live forever.”

Fellow alumnus Nibs Nichols ’70 attended Shore through the eighth grade with Kauders, and remembered him as “an extraordinary human being. He taught us—students and teachers alike—about challenge, resilience, and joy. He was a gift.”

In his obituary in the Boston Globe, friends and family described Kauders, a lawyer and mediator, as calm and confident, traits that drew clients to his firm, Pre-Trial Solutions, where for a quarter-century he helped people find paths to solve their legal differences without an acrimonious, expensive trial. “He could see into people’s souls,” said Paul Chernoff, a retired Superior Court justice who is now a mediator and arbitrator. “He was sight-impaired, but I think he could see better than many sighted people into problems.”

Kauders was born in Salem in 1956 and grew up in Marblehead. Both he and his sister, Dina, were born with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disorder that left them legally blind at birth. That was no obstacle for Chris, according to Nibs Nichols. “Chris navigated a world at Shore and beyond with a keen intellect, courage, and humor. Chris never allowed his challenges to define who he was and instead demonstrated strength through his happiness.” After graduating from Shore, Kauders attended Brooks School. “Faculty at Brooks recognized Chris’s contribution to that community and bestowed him with the highest student ranking of Senior Prefect,” said Nichols, who attended Brooks with Kauders.

Kauders went on to earn an undergraduate degree in political science from Northwestern University and his law degree from Boston College Law School. Over the course of his career, he became a familiar figure in downtown Boston, always accompanied by one of his guide dogs, in whom he placed enormous trust. 

Kauders will be remembered for many successes as a lawyer and mediator, but in recent years his biggest win came in his lawsuit against Uber, after drivers denied him service three times. Uber wanted to send the dispute to arbitration, per terms and conditions that app users agree to follow.

But the state Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled in January 2021 that the extensive contract a user clicks on to access an app can’t be used to force customers into arbitration.

“They’re going to teach this the first year of law school, when they teach formation of contracts,” said Paul Needham, a longtime friend who represented Kauders in the lawsuit. Needham added that Kauders was “one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met, and led his life with determined courage.”

    • Kauders and Wally, the last of his five seeing-eye dogs. Courtesy of the Kauders family.

    • Classmates at the Eastern Yacht Club following the memorial service were (lower row, left to right) Susan Walker ’72, Lisa Crockett ’71, Susan Poor ’72, and Polly Hewson ’71; and (standing left to right) Chris Abbott ’72, Ben Sprague ’71, and Becky Putnam ’71.

    • (Left to right) Abbott, Sprague, and Kauders at a Red Sox game in 2019

Shore Country Day School

545 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915
(978) 927-1700
Shore Country Day School’s mission is to provide an education that inspires a love of learning and encourages children to embrace academic challenge. We seek to build character, cultivate creativity, and value diversity as we help our children become healthy, compassionate citizens of the world.
The School admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status protected by applicable law, and extends to them all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status protected by applicable law in the administration of its admissions, scholarships, and loans, and its educational, athletic, and other programs.