2003-10-08 / Features

Gazarra Retires After 42 Years Of Serving Three Branches Of Government

By John Toscano


“God has been good to me. I’ve served in all three branches of the government and I have no ambition to go higher on the bench, so I’m going to go out now.”“God has been good to me. I’ve served in all three branches of the government and I have no ambition to go higher on the bench, so I’m going to go out now.”

Following a 42-year career in public service, during which he accomplished the rare feat of serving in all three branches of New York State government, Civil Court Judge Anthony Gazzara has announced he will retire at the end of the year.

The soft-spoken, affable Astorian, accomplished the triple threat in government by serving in both houses of the state legislature, State Liquor Authority chairman, and Civil Court Judge.

Now 66, Gazzara feels, "God has been good to me. I’ve served in all three branches of the government and I have no ambition to go higher on the bench, so I’m going to go out now."

Gazzara is looking forward to seeing all of Europe with his wife, Marilyn, playing lots of golf, and just relaxing at home with his grandchildren, Samantha and Heather, who are the children of his daughter, Diana, and husband Doug Fanning. The Gazzara’s son, Anthony, and his wife, Doreen, are expecting a child in November.

He also plans to devote some time to serving his church of the past 41 years, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. "I’ll check it out and see what I can do for them," he said.

Gazzara said he might also devote one day a week to serving as a court arbitrator. But he has ruled out remaining active in politics, a field where he got his start in public service, using his membership at the Taminent Regular Democratic Club as a springboard to getting elected to the Assembly in 1974.

"After almost 50 years of dabbling in it I feel like an old dinosaur," Gazzara explained. "Beside that, like everything else, politics has changed so much and I’ve grown away from it anyway since I went on the bench in 1994." He doesn’t plan to resume his practice of law either, he said.

Of his travel plans, Gazzara said, "We’ve already taken some trips to Italy and we’ve been seeing a lot of the United States, too. We took a trip to Seattle [Washington] recently and as we worked our way back home, we saw three major league ball parks."

A lifelong New York Yankee fan, he’s ready to root the team into the World Series by defeating the Boston Red Sox in the American League championship series.

Tentatively, the Gazzaras are making plans to do a walking tour of Tuscany, Chianti, Florence and Sienna, Italy. Later on, they want to see all of Europe, he said, "Vienna, Budapest, Prague…the whole thing." Still later, he said, "We plan to visit relatives in Tennessee, but we want to see all of this beautiful country."

Born in Astoria on July 11, 1937, Gazzara attended P.S. 4 and Long Island City H.S. He then graduated from the City University of New York (CUNY) and Brooklyn Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1962.

He embarked on a law career, was active in the Taminent Club, and in the Astoria Civic Association and was a director of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens.

Gazzara’s first major political victory was his getting elected to the Assembly in 1974. Two years later, the local state Senate seat became available and Gazzara was elected to fill the vacancy.

In 1983, he was appointed by then Governor Mario M. Cuomo to be chairman of the State Liquor Authority, a post he held for two years before becoming vice president for Intergovernmental Relations at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. He next served as an Administrative Law Judge at the Workers’ Compensation Board.

In 1994, Gazzara was elected as a judge of the Civil Court, a post he still holds.

Looking back in an interview last week, Gazzara said his service in the state Senate was "a very beautiful period" but the Civil Court has also been very rewarding.

Throughout his career, Gazzara has been given numerous awards from civic, youth, senior and political organizations.

The Gazzaras have lived in Astoria on 28th Road for over 30 years "we’ve loved every minute of it and plans to remain here," he said. They especially love the area’s restaurants that offer such variety.

Gazzara’s friends are planning a retirement party for him on Friday evening, November 21 at 6 p.m. at Riccardo’s. Tickets are $45 per person. Send a check to Douglas Fanning Esq. at 526 E. 20th St., 8F, New York, NY 10009.


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