Fordham Law alumnus James F. Gill ’56 died October 27 after a long illness. A wake will be held on Wednesday, November 1, at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, located at 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. On Thursday, November 2, at 10 a.m., Timothy Cardinal Dolan will celebrate the Requiem Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, located at 10 West Stevens Avenue in Hawthorne, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law in memory of Gill, who served on the Center’s board.
Gill had a distinguished career that included roles as a legal officer in the Marine Corps, an assistant DA of New York County under Frank Hogan, chairman of the New York City Joint Commission on Integrity in the Public Schools, chairman of the Long Island Power Authority, chairman of Battery Park City Authority, and acting director of the New York State Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. Across his longtime service on the Board of Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he was an adviser to John Cardinal O’Connor, Edward Cardinal Egan, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
As a loyal graduate of Fordham Law, Gill was always particularly diligent in his service to the School. From 1990 to 1993, he served as president of the Fordham Law Alumni Association. He initiated alumni visits outside New York, increased FLAA membership dramatically, and introduced an alumni directory and referral guide, among other initiatives. He also contributed immensely to the Law School by helping to develop the overall fundraising program.
In addition, Gill was renowned for his Irish wit, which he employed as a trusted counselor and occasional ghostwriter of humorous speeches for prominent New York politicians from New York City Mayor Ed Koch to New York Governor George Pataki — a 1998 New York Times profile of Jim called him “a power broker with blarney in his pen.” His 2002 autobiography, For James and Gillian: Jim Gill’s New York, which canvasses his storied career and shares insights about his zeal for public interest work, is available for download from Fordham’s Digital Commons.
In 2015, Fordham Law’s Feerick Center for Social Justice honored Gill with its Spirit of Hope Award for his many pro bono commitments. At the event, he was honored alongside his daughter, Rose Gill Hearn ’88, another distinguished graduate of Fordham Law who was the longest-serving commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation from 2002 to 2013. In presenting the award to Gill, former Fordham Law Dean John Feerick said, “Jim Gill has been a stalwart champion of Fordham Law School for almost 60 years. So much of his career has been spent improving the institutions that shape the civic fabric of New York life — and of the lives of its people.”
In May 2017, Fordham Law Dean Matthew Diller awarding Gill the Dean’s Medal of Recognition. It was the latest in a long line of awards bestowed upon him by Fordham. He received the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award for his dedication to public service; the Eugene J. Keefe award for his contributions to the Law School; the Fordham Law Alumni Association’s Medal of Achievement for embodying all of the gifts of mind, talent, and spirit of the Fordham alumni community; and the Lifetime Achievement Award for his exceptional contributions to the legal profession.
During the award presentation to Gill, Dean Diller described Gill as “a paragon of integrity and virtue” and “a great lawyer.”
“He has lived his life according to principle and faith and has practiced his profession according to ethics and integrity,” Diller explained. “He has always put his client’s interests above his own. He has always worked hard to do what’s right.”