Saturday, September 17, 2011

Remembering Richard Furia: Fearless Advocate

We've had to report a couple of passings on this site over the past week and it pains us to have to remember yet another dear friend, Rick Furia. Rick was one of the most inimitable personalities we've ever met. A man of deep conviction, he was fearless when it came to the causes and the people that he believed in. He poured his whole heart and soul into everything he did.

Our deepest sympathies are extended to Rick's family, to all of Rick's many friends and most notably to his devoted wife, Bernadette and his wonderful daughter, Gina and her family.

Richard F. Furia, Esq., 66, of Wynnewood, Pa., passed away Friday, September 16, 2011, after a tough battle with lung cancer. With him at the time of his passing were his wife, Bernadette, and daughter, Gina Furia Rubel, Esq.

Born July 21, 1945, Richard was a man known to many as loyal, caring, altruistic and witty. For more than 40 years he dedicated his life to his family, his heritage, and to the practice and profession of law in Philadelphia and Montgomery County.

The son of Edward W. Furia, Sr., U.S. Commissioner and first Italian-American U.S. Magistrate for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Mollie (Scola) Furia, Richard took over his father’s law practice, Furia and Lacko, in 1971. Richard went on to become a partner with Stack and Gallagher, and in 1991 he founded Furia and Turner, for which he served as managing partner.

As a lawyer, Richard believed in doing whatever it took to make sure his clients’ rights were protected. He was an “old-school” lawyer who made house calls whenever his clients needed him – days, nights, weekends and holidays. He served many leadership roles, including Chancellor of The Justinian Society from 1996 to 1998, a post that was also held by his father in the 1950s and his daughter, Gina Furia Rubel, Esq., from 2008 to 2010. Richard helped establish and served as an officer of The Justinian Foundation, which provides scholarships to Italian-American Philadelphia-area law school students. He was elected to serve on the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Executive Board of Philadelphia VIP, and the Executive Board of The Lawyers Club, and he chaired various Bar Association committees throughout the years.

A devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, godfather and friend, Richard was the youngest of three boys. He and his brothers, Edward W. Furia, Jr., Esq. and William B. Furia, Ret. LTC U.S. Army were born and raised in South Philadelphia and spent their weekends and summers at a farm in Schwenksville, Pa., or at the Ocean City, N.J., beach. It is because of this diverse upbringing that Richard had a passion for so many things, from opera and renaissance art to history, fishing, creative writing, oration, boating, metal-detecting, environmental conservancy and just being in the great outdoors.

A consummate friend and loyal alumnus, Richard attended Annunciation B.V.M. School, graduating in 1959. He went on to graduate from Bishop John Neumann High School (Ss Neumann Goretti High School today) in 1963 and remained a proud member of the St. John Neumann Millay Club and a forever friend to his brothers from the “Class of 63.” He was presented with the Millay Club Alumni Achiever Award from Southeast Catholic/Bishop Neumann/Saint John Neumann High School Alumni in 2000. Richard achieved his bachelor's degree cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 and his Juris Doctor cum laude in 1971 from Temple University School of Law.

Richard loved his ethnicity and heritage. He spoke zealously against the negative portrayal and stereotyping of Italian-Americans in the media. He was a member of the National Italian American Foundation, Counsel of 1000. He served as the National Orator for the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), National Secretary for their Commission for Social Justice and president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Social Justice. In 2004 he was honored as “Man of the Year” by the Ivy Ridge Lodge 251, OSIA, for his ”tireless dedication and support to the Lodge, to the Order, to the community as a whole and to Italian Americans.”

Richard was also a member of The Union League of Philadelphia and its Lincoln Table, the Opera Company of Philadelphia Bravi Circle Advisory Board, The Pennsylvania Society, various affinity, state and national lawyers associations, Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society, Russell Conwell Society, Temple Univ. School of Law, The Amici Society, Barnes Society of the Barnes Foundation, a Conservator of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Valley Forge Audubon Society, to which he and his family contributed more than 20 acres of land in 2001 to the Meng Sanctuary, now known as "Stone Hill."

Richard is survived by his wife, Bernadette (Kalinoski), daughter, Gina Furia Rubel, her husband, C. Scott, and their two children, Gianna and Richard Ford, of Doylestown, Pa., his former wife, Jo-Ann (Piccionetti), of New Britain, Pa., his brothers, Edward W. Furia (Laurie) of Seattle, WA, and William B. Furia (June) of Philadelphia, six nieces and nephews, three Godsons, his business partner, James M. Turner, Jr., Esq., and many friends.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the viewing from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, and 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21, at BALDI FUNERAL HOME, 1331 S. Broad Street. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at St. Rita Cascia Church, Broad and Ellsworth Street. Interment will be at Westminster Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will follow at Franco's Osteria, 3900 City Avenue and Presidential Boulevard, Philadelphia.

As an expression of sympathy, the family requests memorial contributions be sent to The Justinian Foundation (Memo: Furia Scholarship Fund) C/O Gaetan Alfano, Esq., Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP, 1818 Market Street, Suite 3402, Philadelphia, PA 19103, the E. W. Furia Memorial Scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (a need-based scholarship for Law School students providing financial support for book purchases) C/O Jaret Herter, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, 3400 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, or the Valley Forge Audubon Society, 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon, PA 19403.

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