Attorney Jack C. Scordo, 83, a practicing lawyer in Watertown for more than 50 years, died May 5 at Samaritan Medical Center after a brief illness.
Attorney Scordo was well known as a trial attorney on criminal cases over the years.
The two most famous cases in which Mr. Scordo was involved were the 13-years of litigations between 1984 and 1997 involving William F. Oakes, accused murderer in the February 1984 slaying of Cape Vincent resident Edward W. Goulding and the "Lost Boyz" litigations following the Sept. 14, 1992 murder of Jackie L. Dacusin, a student at Indian River Central School in Philadelphia.
Attorney Scordo was born in Watertown on March 20, 1927, son of Vincenzo and Marianna Agnesina Scordo.
He was educated in Watertown schools and graduated from Watertown High School in 1945. While in high school, he was prominent in athletics, being captain of the school's varsity football team in 1944.
He served in the U.S. Navy from August 1945 to August 1946, and that fall he entered Union College in Schenectady from which he graduated in 1950 with a bachelor of arts degree.
Attorney Scordo entered Syracuse University law school in the fall of 1950 and graduated with his law degree in June 1953.
His scholastic honors in law school included the New York State Bar association award of first prize for his essay on the United States Constitution in a statewide contest among students of state law schools.
From September 1953 to June 1954, he held a clerkship in the Buffalo law firm of Wilcox & Van Allen.
During the 1954 session of the state legislature Mr. Scordo was legislative clerk to Republican Assemblyman Justin C. Morgan of Buffalo.
He was associated with Atty. William L. Clay of Rochester from July 1954 to June 30, 1955, and from July to September 1955, he was clerk to Jefferson County Surrogate Judge Leon Schwerzmann.
He was associated with Atty. Michael R. Renzi in a clerkship capacity and was admitted to the state bar after passing his examination in March 1958.
On Sept. 1, 1959, he severed his association with Attorney Renzi to open his own law office at 12 Unity building.
Attorney Scordo served as clerk and crier of state supreme and county court in Jefferson County from January 1958 to Aug. 9, 1960.
Attorney Scordo was appointed assistant city corporation counsel in December 1962 to succeed Atty. Russell Spencer, who resigned to return full time to his law practice. He served in the post until June 30, 1977, working with City Corporation Counsel Kenneth W. Brett.
Jack traveled to Italy for a month aboard the Michaelangelo ship in August 1965 where he visited Rome, Naples, had a special audience with Pope Paul in Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence. He visited with aunt and cousin in Reggio, a province of Calabria and traveled to Florence, Venice, Milan, Turin, Genoa and the Italian Riviera. He stopped in Paris, London before arriving back in the US via jet.
Attorney Scordo was president of the Italian-American Civic Association in 1962, Judge Advocate in 1992 and was president of the Watertown Red and Black Football Club in 1972. An active member of St. Anthony's Church, he was president of its Mount Carmel Society in 1966. He was a member of Sons of Italy, the Italian American Heritage Association of Albany, NY, third degree of the Knights of Columbus and an avid fan and member of the Watertown High School Booster Club. Mr. Scordo was a member of Watertown High School's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Achievement.
Attorney Scordo retired March 1 and close his practice at 121-122 Sherman St. All records were transferred to Conboy, McKay, Kendall and Backman.
Friend and fellow attorney Robert V. Renzi, who has also practiced law for about 50 years, said Mr. Scordo made many contributions to the community in addition to his work as a lawyer.
"Jack was so active, he was involved in everything. Not just law; he was an advocate for all kinds of community programs," Mr. Renzi said. "He was a Renaissance man; he was interested in the arts and was a big supporter of Watertown athletics."
Mr. Scordo graduated from Union College, Schenectady, in 1950 before attending law school. He graduated from Syracuse University School of Law in 1953.A member of the Jefferson County Bar Association; he began practicing law in 1958.
"He's a good friend, a good attorney and just a nice man," Mr. Renzi said. "It's hard to believe he won't be running around the courtroom."
In January 2008 he was interviewed by the Watertown Daily Times. The following are excerpts his family wants to share:
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO PURSUE A LAW CAREER?
"I was in high school, playing basketball at Watertown High. We played a game in Herkimer on a Friday night and were playing Saturday at Little Falls, so we stayed overnight at Little Falls.
"Saturday afternoon, the coach sent us to the movies, we started horsing around and got kicked out. One of the kids' father, Bill Reynolds Sr., was a lawyer. He was on the trip with us and he came out, met us in the lobby and prevented us from getting arrested.
"That planted the seed. I was very impressed with the man."
WHO WAS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON HOW YOU APPROACH THE LAW?
"My father instilled in me, not just me, but my brothers and sisters - I'm the seventh of 11 children - a sense of righteousness, of being honest. Paul Shanahan (late Syracuse defense attorney), his trials were like a seminar. He liked to educate the young lawyers. Robert Shaad, William McClusky, are others. Robert Shaad graduated from Cornell in 1950 with the highest grade ever obtained at Cornell Law School. It may have been beaten since, but that was still something like a hundred years."
He is survived by two brothers, Fortunato F. "Ben" and Giuseppe P. "Joseph," both of Watertown, four sisters and a brother in law Caterina "Kay" and Fortunato "Fred" Benedetto, Antionetta A., Carmelina A. and Lucia A. all of Watertown, three cousins Mary Navarra, Josephine Basile, both of North Syracuse, Sister Giacinta Basile NPF, New Brunswick, NJ, cousins in Calabria, Italy, several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Calling hours are Friday 3-7 p.m. at the D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc. a funeral mass will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at Saint Anthony's Church with Reverend Donald Robinson officiating and Monsignor Anthony Milia as the con celebrant. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jack's Name may be made to St. Anthony's Church, 850 Arsenal Street, Watertown, or St. Joseph's Infirmary Villa Walsh, 455 Western Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960. Condolences may be made at www.dlcalarco.com.