Distinguished Alumnus Receives Amateur Athlete Award
Frank Lucianna, who has been practicing law for more than 52 years and is widely regarded as the dean of the Bergen County (N.J.) criminal law bar, has more than a few things in common with legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.
Like Lombardi (FCRH '37), Lucianna is the son of Italian immigrants. And like the football hall of famer, he has always taken great pride in the Jesuit education he received at Fordham, where, he said, he was inspired to "become a better Christian." But late last year, Lucianna (FCRH '48, LAW '51) was linked with Lombardi in another way—this time, for his athletic ability.
On Nov. 25, at its annual sports awards banquet, the YMCA of Greater Bergen County honored the 81-year-old attorney with the 2003 Walter Goepel Amateur Athlete Award, in recognition of his lifetime achievements as a runner. Lucianna, who served as a captain of the Fordham cross country team in 1947, noted that Lombardi received the same award in 1966, the first year it was given.
"As a fellow Fordham man, I think that's a wonderful significance," said Lucianna. "And I'm very, very proud of it."
Lifetime achievement awards are usually reserved for those who have retired, but Lucianna—a World War II veteran who received the Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Medal and four Bronze Battle Stars for his military service—is still running and does not intend to slow down.
During the last two decades, he has won numerous amateur championships, frequently competing in 800- and 1,500-meter events at the Golden Olympics, the Jewish Community Center Olympics and the New Jersey State Championships. In 1998, Masters Track and Field Rankings placed him first in the nation in the 1,500-meter run for the 75-79 age group. Lucianna said that he still finds his daily runs "relaxing and fulfilling, a great antidote to all the pressure and tension that's generated in the law profession." Although he is currently hoping to set the record for his age group in the 800-meter run—he recently clocked a 3:33, seven seconds shy of the mark—his record as an attorney is even more impressive than the records he's set on the track.
As the senior partner of Lucianna & Lucianna, a criminal defense law firm in Hackensack, N.J., he is the oldest active trial attorney in Bergen County. He started taking criminal cases—free of charge, he said—five years before the advent of the public defender, and he has handled more than 25,000 cases during his long career. In 1982, he pioneered the "battered wife syndrome" defense in New Jersey and, six years later, filed the first successful claim in the state under the "Son of Sam" law.
Lucianna's passion for the law has rubbed off on all three of his daughters: Nancy (FCO '83, LAW '86), who now has her own law firm in Fort Lee, N.J., worked with him on the "Son of Sam" case; Susan is a paralegal and investigator with Lucianna & Lucianna; and Diane (LAW '81) is a partner at the firm. Lucianna and his wife, Dolores, who have been married for more than 48 years, also have two grandchildren—Elizabeth (7) and Derek (5).
Ever since he graduated from Fordham, Lucianna has been a loyal alumnus and a tireless volunteer for the University. He served as chair of his class's 50th reunion, and in 1996 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Jersey alumni chapter, in recognition of his outstanding career as a trial lawyer and his service to the community.
"Fordham means a great deal to me," said Lucianna. "It sustained me during the trying years of World War II, and it gave me the ambition to become a lawyer—something I've always treasured."