Raymond E. Marinelli

Marinelli, Raymond E. ALBANY Raymond E. Marinelli, the former Albany County Surrogate Court judge passed away on October 17, 2012. Ray was a loving husband, father and grand-father, and in all his relationships, personal, private or profess-ional, he was a kind and generous man. His consistent mantra during all the phases of his life was "to do the right thing." He rose from humble beginnings in Albany's South End to become one of the first countywide judges of Italian descent. Ray was born in Rhode Island in 1931 shortly after his parents immigrated to the United States. When he was three, his mother became a single parent, and she moved with him to Albany's South End, where there was a large Italian immigrant population. Because his mother needed to work numerous jobs, he spent most of his childhood at Trinity Institute's Masterson Day Nursery. After nursery school he attended St. Anthony's Elementary School, and then Schuyler High School. With the encouragement of the late Ben Baker, he played both football and basketball. Despite his slight frame, he was fast on his feet and was recognized as key team player. He hoped to continue with sports in college, but a short time after his graduation from Schuyler, during the Korean War, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and served for four years. At the conclusion of his service, with the help of the GI bill, he was able to enroll at the University of Miami. He became interested in writing and the communications field, and after several semesters at Miami he transferred to Boston University, because it had a broader communications curriculum. In Boston, he had the opportunity to do some directing for public service television programs. He graduated from Boston University in 1953 with a degree in communications. He then moved to New York City where he secured a position with an advertising agency producing and directing television spots that were shown on the then-existing national networks. In those days everything was shot live so there was no room for production errors. As a result of this experience he developed a respect for attention to details and accuracy a skill that served him well in his future legal and judicial career. His work with network television led to an interest in issues surrounding broadcasting. In the late l950s, he enrolled in New York Law School, then frequently referred to as "the poor man's law school." He attended classes during the evenings and worked during the days. In 1960, he met and married his wife, Patricia. Nearing the completion of law school he moved back to Albany to be close to his mother and aging grandparents. He completed law school by commuting back and forth between New York City and Albany. Ray was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1962, the same month and year that he became the father of twin girls. He started practicing law with an established attorney for which he was paid the sum of $25 a week. Eventually he obtained a part-time job with a title company doing title searches a circumstance that had a significant effect as his legal career progressed. His knowledge of real estate matters led to a position with Albany's corporation counsel's office, where he specialized in early economic development initiatives. When the decision was made to use eminent domain to re-develop major parts of Albany's south end (now known as the Empire State Plaza) he was given the responsibility of researching historical records of property ownership in order to implement the necessary condemnation proceedings. Some of the title searches that Ray did dated back to the 1600s. Ray regarded this experience to be one of the most fascinating and interesting involvements of his legal career. Years later, when driving around the greater Albany area, Ray would frequently give whoever was with him a brief history of the particular site they were passing. After construction of the South Mall was under way, he continued his involvement with real property matters for the city of Albany. He negotiated the purchase of the Palace Theater by the city, which at that time some critics thought to be an irrelevant acquisition a perspective that proved to be shortsighted. He also negotiated the agreement between the Omni Corporation and the city of Albany dealing with the building of the Hilton Hotel, now known as the Hotel Albany. This was regarded by the late Mayor Corning as an essential cornerstone of an economic revitalization of the downtown area. Acting on behalf of the city, Ray had marathon negotiation sessions with the corporation's legal staff, a staff that functioned on a 24/7 basis. The deal was finalized on New Year's Eve, just before the necessary environmental impact statement would expire. As the hotel took its final construction form, Ray and Mayor Corning signed the last cross-beam to be put in place. In 1980, Ray was appointed to fill a vacancy at the Albany County Surrogate Court. Shortly thereafter, he was elected to a full 10-year term. In context with the then existing judicial transfer system, he was frequently transferred to other courts in the state. During these transfer weeks, he presided in the court to which he had been transferred. He then commuted to Albany on weekends to be with his family and to deal with Albany County matters. In 1990, Ray was re-elected to the Surrogate Court and served as the Surrogate Court judge until his retirement in 2000. Ray loved his job as Surrogate Court judge and enjoyed dealing with attorneys and working with them analyzing complex legal matters. He was recognized for his effective negotiation skills and was frequently assigned cases that appeared to be non-negotiable. As surrogate, it was his responsibility to deal with estate matters following the death of an individual. It was a responsibility that he looked upon with great seriousness and his hallmark attention to detail. The aspect of Surrogate Court that Ray most enjoyed was its authority to handle adoptions. He loved seeing and interacting with children who would come to his chambers. Ray dealt with adoptions of children from countries outside of the United States, and developed an expertise in international regulations regarding these kinds of adoptions. Even after his retirement, he would often receive notes and photographs from the parents of the adoptees. During his tenure, he saw to it that the historic Surrogate Court chambers were appropriately maintained. It was not unusual for visiting judges to specifically request the use of his chambers. Ray retired in 2000, having reached the mandatory retirement age. During his retirement years, he continued to serve as a senior judge and a judicial hearing officer for the New York State Retirement System. Ray is survived by Patricia, his beloved wife of 53 years, and his wonderful, loving children, Kathleen Marinelli (Karen Asher), Karen Marinelli Gomez (Bill), Robert Marinelli and Lisa Marinelli and his beautiful grandchildren, Allison Rae and Patricia Kathleen. Ray was proud of his Italian heritage, and appreciative of the caring and loving environment he experienced as a child growing up in Albany's South End. Funeral services will be private at the convenience of the family. There will be no calling hours. Those wishing to offer a remembrance of Ray may make a contribution to Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, 15 Trinity Place, Albany, NY 12202 or trinityalliancealbany.org


Published in Albany Times Union from Oct. 19 to Oct. 20, 2012