Family, friends and colleagues remembered longtime Schenectady lawyer and judge Romolo Versaci as a caring and accomplished individual who had a positive impact on Schenectady and the countless lives that he touched.
Versaci, 84, died Friday.
“He was a tremendously supportive and loving father,” said his son, Schenectady County Surrogate Court Judge Vincent Versaci. “All the success that I’ve had I really owe in part to all the love and support he had given me over the years.”
A 1949 cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Romolo Versaci graduated from Albany Law School in 1954. He went on to practice law in the area for more than 50 years and tried cases across the state. He worked as a law clerk in Schenectady County Court in 1956 and ’57 and was an attorney for the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority from 1970 to 1974. He became a Schenectady City Court judge in 1975, then went on to serve as assistant corporation counsel from 1980-89.
“He was an activist, both in politics and a lot of civic affairs,” noted Vincent Versaci. “I think he helped with the initial establishment of the NAACP in the city and county, and he was integral in helping to establish a number of not-for-profit organizations, where he would volunteer his legal services to these organizations so they’d get up and running.”
Attorney Thomas DeLorenzo of Schenectady grew up three houses from Romolo Versaci in Schenectady’s Bellevue neighborhood and also worked with him over the years.
“He became a City Court judge, and he cared so much about the people that he opened the court at night. No other city judge has ever done that,” he recalled. “What he did is he called a few other attorneys on a volunteer basis, and I was one of them, to come help with the cases … so that the people who were working were able to have their cases heard at night. He was a good, caring person.”
Former Schenectady City Councilman Joseph L. Allen remembered Versaci as an amazing lawyer. “He was just super sensitive in regard to dealing with legal issues,” he said. “He was just an outstanding individual who thought nothing of helping people if he could do it.”
Schenectady City Court Judge Mark Blanchfield knew Versaci for 15 years.
“He was a wonderful example for young lawyers and also a real inspiration for people from Schenectady,” he said. “He was a man who went to Mont Pleasant High School, went on to get a Harvard degree and [was] a real inspiration for people in this community that you can be a local guy and be a successful professional. He was always engaged in civic affairs and very giving of his time and expertise to people who were in public life and had questions or concerns and just a very generous man.
“He was really a wonderful guy, and I’ll miss him as a friend very much.”
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