ANTHONY J. BELLANCA
The ancient Greeks believed that a man’s wealth at the time of his death was not a true indication of his worth. They believed that the worth of a man is best demonstrated by the loss felt by the people who knew him and that a better measure of worth was the amount of tears shed at his passing.
If that be the case, Anthony J. Bellanca took second chair to no one.
First and foremost, he dedicated his life to his family, as he should have. His devotion to his wife Marianne, his four children and four grandchildren was without parallel. He was devoted to his brothers and his nieces and nephews almost to the same degree. For any of those of his immediate family and extended family who experienced a bump in the road in life’s journey, they knew that Tony was there to offer his quiet, steady and limitless support.
He joined the firm, started by his father in 1935, with his brother, Peter, and later, his brother, Jim, with the same level of devotion and caring that he had for his family and his extended family.
He viewed his firm and everyone who worked with it, as another family. It was not a business to him, it was a profession of the highest calling.
He believed that it was his responsibility not only to defend the rights of his clients but to protect the profession to which he was born and for which he had the highest regard. He did not view his role, necessarily to win, but rather to secure a just result. No one is ever entirely right or entirely wrong in most conflicts. He recognized that. It is a far more difficult task to understand that part of your responsibility as a lawyer is to remind your client that they aren’t always 100% right.
Tony recognized, just as he knew in the raising of his children, that it is always easier to say yes than it is to say no. He said no when it needed to be said and when he said it, nothing would dissuade him from the position that he believed was just and proper.
Even with his devotion to family and firm, Tony found time to share his devotion to his Italian Heritage with the world. He, with a couple of others, revived the Italian American Cultural Society, which had been formed by his father in the mid 50’s and was dormant for many years after his father’s death in 1965. He served on the Board of Directors for almost 20 years and was its President. He then devoted himself to the NOI Foundation as a founding trustee and was its President until his death. As a result, he received many accolades, including being twice decorated by the Italian Government and obtaining one of the highest awards “Commendatore ” that a non-citizen can receive, by the President of the Republic.
He worked diligently on many committees of the Macomb County Bar Association and quietly assumed the presidency, where he continued to instill in others the level of professionalism which had been his calling card for the more than 50 years of his legal career.
So in the end, a man has died. His family continues. His firm continues. The organizations to which he was devoted continue. He is gone from this world but the people with whom he had contact are forever changed for having been blessed by that contact. In effect, he left the world a better place and those of us who knew him as family, as friend, as partner, as counselor, will continue to try to live up to the standards he presented and hopefully those of us who touch others, will instill in them what he has instilled in us. His legacy will continue.