The Bronx lost a steady politician, judge and father on March 20 when Jerry L. Crispino passed away. Crispino, 78, most recently of Pelham Manor, had been ill for some time.
Born in East Harlem to Italian immigrants, Crispino attended Long Island’s LaSalle Military Academy, Manhattan College and the Fordham University School of Law. A Democrat, he represented north Bronxites on the City Council from 1975 to 1991, chairing the council’s land use and health committees. Appointed a New York State Supreme Court justice in 1992, Crispino retired in 2003.
Former Bronx elected official Guy Velella, a colleague and long-time friend, called Crispino a modest public advocate and family man. Velella’s father and Crispino’s mother grew up together. Once a year, Velella’s father would treat Crispino to dinner.
“He was proud to have become a judge,” Velella said. “I was proud of him, too.”
Crispino is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marguerite, son Louis Paul Crispino, daughter Nina Crispino-Messina and granddaughter Felicia Marie Messina.
“He was so dedicated and honorable,” said Michelle Dolgow-Cristofaro, Crispino’s niece. “He led a wonderful life. We’ll miss Uncle Jerry and so will the Bronx.”
Morris Park lawyer Murray Richman praised Crispino the judge.
“Jerry tired a case of mine just before he left the bench,” Richman said. “I’ve never received a better trial, and I don’t give compliments to judges easily.”
Yannantuono Burr Davis Sharpe Funeral Home hosted Crispino’s wake on Monday, March 23. Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement.
“Throughout his service to NYC, [Crispino] was known for his candor and integrity,” Bloomberg said.
According to Velella, Crispino was a thoughtful politician who battled John Calandra twice for a state senate seat.
“Jerry was low-key, unlike myself and Calandra,” Velella said. “We were a little aggressive, a little emotional. Jerry listened.”
Crispino began his career as a congressional aide. After retiring from the Supreme Court, he worked as a consultant to Hudson Valley Bank.
While a councilman, Crispino sponsored a law requiring NYC restaurants to display “Heimlich Maneuver” posters demonstrating how to aid diners in distress.