A community member who helped so many was honored with a street co-naming.
William Madonna, a Morris Park lawyer who was a trusted advisor on many community endeavors and someone who took on pro-bono legal work to help the community, was honored with a street co-naming at the corner of Bogart and Morris Park avenues on Saturday, September 8.
The corner was renamed ‘Will Madonna Way’ and it was near the site of his self-named law practice, said Sonny Vataj, a real estate broker who was a longtime friend and client.
Friends and associates remembered Madonna as a someone who represented community groups in litigation, such as when he was the legal counsel to the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance in their effort to save the parkway’s stately trees during the major reconstruction of the southern roadways.
Vataj believes that the renaming was a fitting tribute to Madonna.
“I think he served the whole community and the borough of the Bronx,” said Vataj, adding that in addition to his pro-bono work Madonna was a Bronx assistant district attorney before opening his own law practice.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj recalled that Madonna was one of his most trusted advisors and that as an attorney he helped fight a proposed rent increase at Tracey Towers when the councilman represented the complex as an assemblyman.
The councilman first met Madonna 20 years ago when he was running his real estate business, he said.
“He worked his way right into my heart,” said Gjonaj, adding that Madonna had many Assembly staff titles over the years and that his bi-weekly paycheck from the state was typically less than what he could earn as a lawyer in an hour.
In deciding to name a street after Madonna, and in recalling his friendship, the councilman remembered him as a generous man.
“Every time I had someone come before me and who needed legal advice without the ability to pay, he would meet with them and steer them in the right direction,” said Gjonaj. “He did countless pro bono cases.”
The councilman added that there were people at the street renaming that recalled how he helped them legally, whether it was a criminal or a personal matter.
Madonna’s niece, Karen Del Vecchio, also an attorney, said that she believed her uncle was honored because of his community involvement.
“He reached a lot of people across the board,” she said, noting he was an attorney in Morris Park for 20 years and recalled he had a way of making everyone feel that their issues were important to him.
Del Vecchio took over Madonna’s firm on Hone Avenue after her uncle passed.
Thomas Messina, who introduced Madonna at a Chippewa Democratic Club function the night before the attorney passed away at the age of 55 in June 2017, said Madonna exuded friendship, had a sense of humor and would ‘give you the shirt off his back.’
In addition to being a district attorney, Madonna once worked in the NYC Office of the Corporation Counsel.