John Sciortino, 1959 – 2012

John Sciortino passed away suddenly, at much too young an age, Monday evening, March 12, at his home in Penfield. John was born in Buffalo and grew up in Schenectady where he graduated from Mohonasen High School in 1977. John is deeply mourned by the many he so profoundly touched. He was a man of many varied and diverse passions and talents. He loved life and lived it large in every way. He possessed the rare qualities of a good listener and great storyteller. He was funny. Above all, he was a loving husband to Michele and a doting father to his teenage daughter Andrea.

He loved music, particularly jazz, and was accomplished with the trumpet and piano. He never missed the Rochester Jazz Festival. He was an avid fan and supporter of the Gregory Kunde Chorale, headed by his good friend and world renowned tenor, Gregory Kunde.

He loved sports of every kind and was always a familiar figure at Frontier Field rooting on the Red Wings or the many teams who completed at the Blue Cross Arena. Through thick and thin, and last year very thick, the Boston Bruins were his team and to his tremendous delight, finally brought home the Stanley Cup.

His home in Cape Cod was his refuge where he escaped to enjoy the pleasures of his family. He was an avid fisherman and boater.

John served tirelessly on the Boards to advance the needs of others through his service with many not-for-profit organizations. At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church of Penfield he was chair of the Parish Pastoral Council and led an involved and successful expansion project. He is past Chairman of the Board of Governors for Seniorsfirst Communities & Services. He is a member of Wakan-Hubbard Lodge No. 154 F.&A.M. He served for almost 25 years on the Boards at Valley Manor and Kirkhaven Nursing Home.

His recent appointment to the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Union College, capped a lifetime of study, financial support and service to the institution that provided him invaluable guidance and purpose.

After graduating from Union, John earned his law degree from Albany Law School in 1986 and was a founding partner in the law firm of Segar & Sciortino. His distinguished service in the bar was dedicated solely to advancing the needs of injured workers. At the time of his death, he was President of the New York State Injured Workers’ Bar Association, a founding member of the Board of Governors of the New York Injured Workers’ Alliance and founding member and former State Co-Chair of the New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial, a non-for-profit organization devoted to commemorating the early 20th century sweatshop conflagration which provided the impetus for the enactment of New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Law. Each year, under John’s guidance, more than a dozen Triangle Scholarships are awarded to children of permanently disabled workers attending college across New York State.

Described as “one of the foremost advocates for Workers’ Compensation reform”, John was invited in 2006 to participate as a panelist at a NYS Senate Workers’ Compensation Reform Round Table to offer insight into ways to improve the Workers’ Compensation system. In 2007, John served as an advisor to the New York State Department of Insurance Task Force appointed to make recommendations to improve the resolution process for disputed Workers’ Compensation cases.

In 2008, he was awarded a Clara Lemlich Public Service Award for his outspoken efforts on behalf of the rights of injured workers in New York State. The recognition is named in honor of the noted 20th century sweatshop labor activist who inspired a massive strike for the New York City garment workers in 1909 which lead to improved working conditions in the garment industry. John has been annually recognized by Super Lawyers. Last weekend he was inducted as a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

John was truly one of a kind – bigger than life. He lived to help and serve others. He was – in the most special way – heaven sent and loved by all. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Michele, daughter Andrea, mother Hermine Sciortino, sister Linda DiGiralamo, sister-in-law and brother-in-law David and Maureen McDaniel, mother-in-law Shirley Hudson, Uncle/Aunt Dominick and Kathleen Sciortino, Aunt Isabel Sciortino, nieces Nicole DiGiralamo and Ismay English, nephew Matthew Hudson and several cousins. He is also survived by his best friend and law partner, Stephen A. Segar and family. He was predeceased by his loving father Anthony Sciortino and dear friend – brother-in-law Mark Hudson.

Contributions in John’s name may be made to Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, New York 12308.