Life Story: Frank Catalina, 78; Longtime Attorney, Teacher

Frank Edward Catalina, 78 of Somerset, died at home Oct. 15 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

He was born on Nov. 3, 1942 in Jersey City to Anne (Stierli) Zando and the late Edward Catalina.

He grew up in Secaucus and North Bergen and spent his youth exploring the New Jersey Meadowlands. A proud graduate of St. Peter’s Prep (’61), Frank graduated from St. Peter’s College in 1965, having spent his Junior year studying abroad at Oxford University. He was a member of the Oxford University basketball team, which defeated the British Olympic team and only suffered one loss – at the hands of the London YMCA. Following college, he attended NYU Law School on a Root-Tilden Scholarship, graduating in 1968.

Feeling that so much had been given to him, Frank spent much of his career giving back. Following law school, he went to work for Legal Services, providing needed legal counsel to low-income individuals in Central New Jersey. He was subsequently appointed Director of the anti-poverty Model Cities program in Perth Amboy, which successfully launched a community health center under his directorship. After that, Frank taught for seven years at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, where, among other things, he ran the Urban Legal Clinic, which served low-income Essex County residents in need of legal advice.

Frank subsequently spent more than 30 years in private practice, while also teaching commercial law at New York Law School for 20 of those years. For the last 23 years of his career, he practiced at the Jersey City-based Margulies Wind firm, which he enjoyed immensely. He was a longtime member of the Hudson Inn of Court, where he mentored younger attorneys in litigation skills and professionalism. In 2012, Frank was awarded the Professional Lawyer of the Year Award for Hudson County by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law, an award for which he was nominated by his peers.

Frank married the love of his life, Ellen (Donohue) Catalina in 1967. In 54 years, they never had a boring moment and never ran out of things to discuss. They raised three children, spent their summers on Long Beach Island with family, and cruised around the world at every opportunity. Aside from his family, Frank will forever be remembered for his love of music, movies, fine food, and his beloved, if often frustrating, New York Giants.

Frank is survived by his 107-year-old mother, Anne Zando, his wife Ellen, his three children and their spouses – Ellen Catalina (Don), Laura (Catalina) Johnson (William), and Frank Catalina (Karen) – and his eight grandchildren – Sasha, Ben, Harvey, Shamus, Sean, Ryan, Claire, and Frankie, who brought him so much joy. He will be missed tremendously.

Services will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Oct. 19 at Gleason Funeral Home, 1360 Hamilton Street. Requiem Mass to be held at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at St. Matthias Catholic Church, 168 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at https://giving.mskcc.org in loving memory of Frank E. Catalina.

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