The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Kevin Quaranta, judge, father, friend, dies at 56

By JOHN ROCHE

Throngs of mourners crammed into St. Patrick’s main church, the choir loft and a downstairs meeting room and also spilled out onto the front plaza at a funeral mass Tuesday morning for Bedford Town Justice Kevin Quaranta, who died last week after a battle with cancer.

Mr. Quaranta, 56, died at his home on July 27 surrounded by his wife, Judith, and their children, Christina, Kevin and William. He had been battling melanoma — his second bout with the disease in six years — although most friends and neighbors were unaware that he was sick. Mr. Quaranta presided over town court the week prior to his death.

In eulogizing his father, Will Quaranta brought the overflow crowd to tears at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Bedford Village, where Mr. Quaranta was a long-time parishioner, usher, parish council member and CYO coach.

“There is nothing worse than a 17-year-old losing his father, but I wouldn’t trade 17 years with my Dad for a lifetime with another father,” Will said. “And as much as I am missing him, who am I, who are we, to deny him the peace he so deserved.”

One of Mr. Quaranta’s closest friends, Lou Nemnon, said that while he will be missed by many, his wife and children are the living legacy that Mr. Quaranta most treasured and was proudest of.

“I know that he is gone, but looking at his children, I see Kevin,” Mr. Nemnon said, noting that Christina particularly shares her father’s intelligence, sensitivity and tenderness, Kevin especially embodies his father’s heart and compassion, and Will carries on his father’s competitive spirit.

Mr. Quaranta could be described in three P’s, according to Mr. Nemnon: Proud of his family, patriotic about his country and his town, and passionate about all he was involved in. 

His friend also spoke about how Mr. Quaranta’s deep, driving faith and dedication to helping others came from the example set by his mother, Mary Ann Quaranta, who raised two children on her own. His father, Dr. John V. Quaranta, died when Mr. Quaranta was only 19 months old.

“I’d like to think that when Kevin got to heaven, the Lord was there waiting for him,” Mr. Nemnon said at the funeral. “I’d like to think the Lord said, ‘Thank you, you lived a good life. Now come with me. I’ve prepared a place for you. You’ll be with your mother, and the father you never knew.’”

Other family, friends and colleagues this week expressed grief about Mr. Quaranta’s death, but also reflected on his remarkable life and myriad contributions to Bedford.

“There is an enormous sense of loss and sadness throughout the town over Kevin Quaranta’s death,” Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts said. “To the end, he demonstrated great strength and courage in carrying out his duties on the bench despite such a serious illness. Kevin was dedicated to his family, his church and his community, and he gave unstintingly of his time and energy to this town. As a coach and mentor to young people, and as a Bedford Village Lion, Kevin devoted countless hours towards helping others and serving the community. We will miss him very much, and our thoughts are with his wife Judy and their three children.”

His colleague on the town court bench, Justice Erik Jacobsen, said Mr. Quaranta will be missed by many. “We in the court, and I am sure most people in town, knew that Kevin loved his family, sports and serving as town justice,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “As a husband, father, sports fan, coach and town justice, Kevin was dedicated to serving all in Bedford and excelled in each of his passions. He also never lost a step while fighting his cancer. My wife Janet and I, and all of us at the town court, mourn his loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”

County legislator Peter Harkcham said that Mr. Quaranta lived his life based on what he loved. “Kevin was first and foremost about family, and should be remembered for his love of his wife and children,” Mr. Harckham said. “His second devotion was to public service and the young people of Bedford.”

Mr. Harckham added that he is “deeply saddened” by the death of his dear friend. “My prayers are with Judy, Christina, Kevin and Will,” he said. “Words cannot describe our loss.”

Town board member Chris Burdick said the death of his friend leaves a tremendous void in Bedford.

“It’s just a devastating and shocking loss, and since Kevin touched literally thousands of lives throughout his own life, it’s a loss that’s being felt by many,” Mr. Burdick said. “Kevin was more than a colleague for me, he was a friend. We ran together on the same slate in 2007 and again last year, and I’m grateful now looking back at the hours and hours we got to spend together campaigning, knocking on doors and talking with our neighbors in Bedford about the issues and our town.”

Mr. Burdick said the two grew closer through campaigning, when he came to appreciate the judge’s knack for connecting with people. “I got to see firsthand Kevin’s intellect and wisdom, his sharp wit and warm sense of humor, and his people skills,” Mr. Burdick said. “I think he had a photographic memory, because it seemed he could remember not only names, but specific details about everyone he came in contact with. And I think that stemmed from the fact that he cared so much about people. He’ll be missed by his loving family and by his countless friends, including myself, and for all he did for our town.”

Mr. Burdick also recalled how Mr. Quaranta urged him to join the Bedford Village Lions Club, a local chapter of the international service organization.

“Almost singlehandedly, Kevin reinvigorated the Lions Club by reaching out to recruit new members, which is yet another example of how he always seemed to be working to make things better, whether it was in Bedford or beyond,” Mr. Burdick said.

George Fernandez, president of the Bedford Village Lions Club, said the overflowing crowd at the wake and funeral mass were testament to how many lives Mr. Quaranta touched. “Kevin had many gifts, but one was certainly his ability to connect people and to connect with people,” Mr. Fernandez said. “That’s his legacy, and I hope that I and the many, many, many people whose lives Kevin touched carry on that legacy by coming together for one another, by working together for the common good, and by reaching out to each other whenever and however possible. That was Kevin, and now it’s up to all of us to continue that connection, that support for others and all the good he started.”

Another friend, Bruce Yablon, the chairman of the Bedford Democratic Committee, worked closely with Mr. Quaranta on political campaigns and other issues in recent years. “The thing about Kevin was that whatever he did, big or small, personally, professionally or politically, he did from his heart, and that showed,” Mr. Yablon said. “So many people have said that Kevin was ‘one of a kind,’ but he was also ‘a kind one.’ He truly cared about people and had this amazing ability to remember not only peoples’ names but also what their children were up to, or a challenge they had faced, or a project they were working on. I’ve come to know that Kevin was able to remember those things seemingly forever because he truly listened, and listened with his heart.”

Mr. Yablon said that every conversation he had with Mr. Quaranta started and ended with family. “No matter what else we would discuss, Kevin always, always began by asking about my family, and sharing a little about his,” Mr. Yablon said. “That’s because family always came first for Kevin. His love of family was the foundation that he built everything else on. Above all else, above all he achieved and accomplished, I’ll remember Kevin for his love of family, which carried over into his love of our town and of people.”

Bedford Police Chief William Hayes said that Mr. Quaranta earned the respect and admiration of many, not only by how he carried out his duties as judge, but by how he lived his life. “I’ll remember Kevin as a true gentleman, a proud father and a fair and highly dedicated judge,” Chief Hayes said. “Not only did he serve Bedford as town justice, but he gave so much of his time as a volunteer for this community. He’ll be missed by many because of the man he was, I’m sure.”

Bill O’Shaughnessy, president and CEO of Whitney Radio, spoke of his friendship with Mr. Quaranta, who co-hosted a talk radio program on WVOX. On the program, called “First Friday,” Mr. Quaranta discussed legal issues and other matters with fellow judges and attorneys as well as prominent figures in law enforcement and the legal field.

“He was a great communicator, a great broadcaster and a terrific judge who was often mentioned for higher judicial office,” Mr. O’Shaugnessy said. “Whenever Kevin Quaranta came into a room, everyone would perk up. People really loved him.”

A trial attorney for 25 years, including a stint as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx, Mr. Quaranta had a private law practice based in Mount Kisco. He also served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves during the first Persian Gulf War as a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps.

Mr. Quaranta graduated from Fordham Preparatory School in 1974, Fordham College in 1978 and Fordham Law School in 1981. He was a past president of the Bronx Bar Association, a board member of the Catholic Big Brothers, a board member of the Westchester Fordham Law School Alumni Association and a coach for the Bedford-Pound Ridge Little League.

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Quaranta is survived by a sister, Mary Beth Morrissey.

Following the two-day wake at Clark Associates Funeral Home and the funeral mass on July 31, Mr. Quaranta was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery.



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