Obituary: Raymond LaFazia
Raymond LaFazia, 88, a lawyer from Little Compton, passed away on Dec. 24.
Raymond, LaFazia, 88, formerly of Little Compton, died in Estero, FL., on Dec. 24 with family by his side.
After graduating from Mt. Pleasant High School, Ray enlisted in The Army Air Corps where he flew 38 combat missions as a ball turret gunner in the B24's. He received The Distinguished Flying Cross, silver and gold oak leaf clusters and the Certificate of Valor. After the war, Ray attended the University of Rhode Island and obtained a law degree from Boston University. He clerked for Rhode Island Legal Aid and always praised his early mentors. Ray continued to handle numerous cases pro bono after establishing his own law practice. Early in his career Ray and Bill Gunning founded Gunning and LaFazia which became a leading litigation firm. During his six decade career he handled complex civil matters many setting legal precedent in personal injury, insurance coverage, workers compensation and admiralty law. A Dean of the Rhode Island Bar, he was known for his legal acumen, trial successes, stamina and his civility and respect for his profession.
He will be best remembered as a mentor who gave generously and selflessly of his time, skills and experience. Among those who credit career success to his tutelage, are members of the state and federal judiciary, leaders of the bar, a former governor, and president of a local hospital. In the early 1980's, Gunning and LaFazia was comprised of 25 percent women when other litigation firms had none. He served as a bar examiner and as a member of the Advisory Commitee on Rules of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He was a recipient of the Ralph P. Semonoff Award for Professionalism and a lifetime member of the Rhode Island Bar Foundation.
At 53, Ray embraced bicycling, toured much of the continental U.S., the Baja and Great Britain. He cycled up Mount Evans, Mount Washington, and Mount Rainier. He hosted the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen's "Polar Bear" bicycle ride for 35 years. At age 75, Ray bicycled 500 miles through the mountains of Montana. Even in his last year he could be seen riding his bicycle from home to the gym still living the principles of discipline and determination that defined so much of his life. An avid gardener and landscaper he loved working in his yard, spending time with family and his dogs.
He is survived by wife, Ellen, son Raymond Alan, daughter Jeanne and her husband George Mason. He also leaves a brother George and wife Virginia, sisters Catherine Deion and husband Joe, Lois Guilford and husband Earle, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, Emil and Anna (Peloso) Lafazia, Helen (Jones) LaFazia, sister Dorothy Danella (husband Jimmy) and daughter-in-law Dale Dwyer.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend A Mass of Christian Burial was held in St. Kevin's Church, 333 Sandy Lane, Warwick. Visitors called at the NARDOLILLO FUNERAL HOME & Crematory, 1278 Park Ave., Cranston on Friday from 3-7 p.m. Interment, with military honors, took place in the R.I. Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Exeter. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Hope HealthCare Services, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Ft. Meyers FL 33908 or Forever Paws Animal Shelter, 300 Lynwood St. Fall River, MA 02721. Visit www.nardolillo.com for online condolences.