Honorable John A. Conte
Mahwah - The Honorable John A. Conte, of Mahwah, NJ, passed away on Monday, March 30, 2020. He was 83 years of age.
Judge Conte was born in Jersey City, NJ to Patrick J. and Esther (LaFianza) Conte. The family moved to Elmwood Park (formerly East Paterson) and opened the Patrick J. Conte Funeral Home, where they also resided. He attended St. Leo's School in Elmwood Park, NJ and Pope Pius XII High School in Clifton, where he was on the Varsity baseball team for four years. He received a degree in mortuary science from the American Academy of Funeral Service in 1955 prior to his completion of college, and spent time working at the family's funeral home.
Judge Conte proudly served his country for eight years; two years in the New Jersey National Guard and six years in the United States Army in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, having attained the rank of Sergeant First Class. He received an Honorable Discharge in 1962.
Judge Conte graduated Seton Hall University in 1961, with a degree in Political Science, and Seton Hall Law School in 1967 with a Juris Doctorate degree. He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1967 and opened his own law practice in Saddle Brook, NJ, while also living there until 1970. The firm became Conte, Clayton & Conte in 1984. He served as Municipal Court Judge in the municipalities of Saddle Brook, Elmwood Park, Wallington, Rochelle Park and Fort Lee. He was also admitted to the New York State Bar and the Washington, DC Bar. Throughout those years he served as borough attorney for Elmwood Park, attorney for the Wallington Planning Board, Elmwood Park Zoning Board of Adjustment, Saddle Brook Zoning Board of Adjustment, and also Prosecutor for Elmwood Park. He also served as President of the Bergen County Bar Association and Chairman of the Supreme Court Subcommittee of Traffic and Computerization of the Municipal Court Action Committee for Bergen County. He has also been a member of the Supreme Court Ethics Committee and Supreme Court Committee on Procedure to Accelerate Criminal Trials.
He was appointed as Judge of the New Jersey Superior Court on June 7, 1991 and proudly served in Bergen County's Superior Court Civil Part, Family Part, and Criminal Part until his retirement age in 2006. In 2007, Judge Conte was recalled to serve in the Superior Court for the next nine years. For many years he authored and published a definitive work for criminal judges on motion practice. Every state Superior Court Judge in the Criminal Division has that book on their bench. He was a pillar of the New Jersey judicial family who loved the law and the colleagues who worked alongside him.
For Judge Conte, his family was his greatest success. He is survived by his adoring wife, Lucille (nee Tafuri), of 63 years, and four children, Meryl Conte Clayton, John A. Conte, Jr. and his wife Donna, Maria Conte-Benedict, and Jennifer Conte Passerino and her husband Anthony; brother-in-law Robert Tafuri and his wife, Julie, and his brother, Patrick. He was proudest of and most adored by his grandchildren: Andrew Clayton and his wife, Brianna, JP Clayton and his wife, Ashley; John W. Conte, David Conte and his wife, Samantha, and Michael Conte; Ralph and Isabella Benedict; Jenna, Robert, and Anthony Passerino; and Kyle and Tyler Tafuri. He instilled in them the greatest sense of family, kindness to everyone, and love of life.
His hobbies included woodworking, gardening in his greenhouse, riding his tractor and golf cart, playing musical instruments, enjoying his pool, watching war and western movies, cheering for the Yankees, rooting for the Devils, many of whom were close friends, and most especially, spending time with his family. He was an example to many and a friend to all. Due to the current circumstances, services and burial will be private. A celebration of his beautiful life will be held at a later date.
Published in The Record/Herald News from Apr. 6 to Apr. 7, 2020.