City Court Judge, public servant, and longtime Rye Republican leader John Lawrence Alfano of Rye, New York, passed away on September 29, 2021, at the New York State Veterans’ Home at Montrose where he had been in residence since 2019. He was 83.
Born on June 2, 1938, he was the son of Edward Mario Alfano and Edna Laemmle Alfano. He and his younger sister, Elizabeth (Betty), grew up in a vibrant Italian-American and German-American neighborhood in the Bronx.
In 1954, John and his family moved to New Rochelle, New York. After graduating from New Rochelle High School, he went on to study at Cornell University where he was a member of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity. After receiving his degree, he joined the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. Upon returning to the U.S., he pursued a law degree at Fordham Law School. It was during this time, that he reconnected with Phyllis Prout, a high school classmate, and the two married in 1964.
The Alfanos moved to Rye in 1968, after the birth of their first daughter. They welcomed a second and third daughter to their family shortly afterwards.
For many years, John was in practice with his father in Alfano & Alfano Attorneys at Law, focusing on transportation and interstate commerce. After his father’s retirement, he went into solo practice. He participated in several professional organizations, including the Columbian Lawyer’s Association of Westchester County and the AICCP (Associate of Interstate Commerce Commission Practitioners) on which he served a term as president. The highpoint of his professional career came in 1996, when he was appointed a Rye City Court Judge.
A lifelong volunteer, John Alfano loved Rye and contributed to the community in so many capacities over the years. He was a volunteer fireman, an active member of American Legion Post 128, and was elected to the City Council where he served for one term. He served on the Rye Planning Commission and the Conservation Commission/Advisory Council. An active member of the Rye GOP, he was a campaign manager for many years. Mr. Alfano was also a trustee of Rye Presbyterian Church, a member and former president of Rotary Club of Rye, and on the board of directors of the Rye YMCA and the Rye Historical Society.
In 1985, he was honored with the Paul Harris Award by Rye Rotary, and in 2008 he received the American Legion’s Americanism Award for his longtime commitment to public service.
John Alfano was known for his sense of humor, his commitment to his community, his love of family, and his green thumb (which earned him the nickname “Farmer John” among friends and family).
For two decades, he would call The Rye Record soon after an issue arrived in his mailbox and say: “Alf here…you had a typo on page…but I’ll forgive you this time…. Meanwhile, when are you going to start publishing weekly?”
Rye Republican Club member Matt Thomas recalled, “John and I would speak on the phone on a random Tuesday morning to talk local and national politics…all the while he would be cajoling me to reestablish the Rye Republican Club. He’d say, ‘Matt…we gotta do something about getting this *#@! club back to where it was.’
“No doubt John was a character, but he was our character. John was in love with our country and all that she stands for and he never let me forget it during our conversations.”
He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Prout Alfano; his daughters, Christine Alfano of Menlo Park, California (Christian Smith) and Suzanne Alfano of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Robert Ingo Kempfe); and eight grandchildren: Miranda Alfano-Smith, Max Alfano-Smith, Sabine Kempfe, Olivia Kempfe, Karsten Kempfe, AJ Thompson, Sean Thompson, and Hailey Thompson. He is also survived by his sister, Elizabeth Alfano Wund of Cape May, New Jersey, and his cousin, Robert C. Cale of Arkansas. He was predeceased by his youngest daughter, Nancy Alfano Thompson who passed away from breast cancer in 2009.
Visiting hours will be held Friday, October 8 from 4-7 p.m. at Graham Funeral Home in Rye. A small service will be held at Rye Presbyterian Church, Saturday, October 9 at 10 a.m., followed immediately by burial at Greenwood Union Cemetery.
Donations in John Alfano’s memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org) or the Susan G. Komen Foundation (komen.org).