Attorney Lawrence J. Ferolie

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Lawrence J. Ferolie
Lawrence J. Ferolie
Our extended ethnic community lost a giant recently, the highly respected Lawrence J. Ferolie, distinguished lawyer and leading Italian American in Rockford. Lawrence, 90, loved his family, the law and Italy.

Larry passed away on Sunday, July 29, 2012, in his home, having lived in Rockford for all but one of those years when he went to his mother’s birthplace, Gallarate, Italy to go to school for a year and receive his First Holy Communion. He made over 30 trips to Italy, reconnecting his American family with the Italian cousins his mother sent care packages to during World War II. He was never happier than when sitting with his extended Italian family at their winery, watching his grandchildren run through the vineyards. He was inducted into the Rockford Italian American Hall of Fame.

Larry’s paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1895. Their son, Albert, met Tersilla Bottazzi in New York. They married, had two sons, Larry and younger brother Charles, who died in 1990. They eventually moved to Rockford, settling on North First Street in an Italian neighborhood.

Larry attended grammar and high school in Rockford, playing football and contributing to the school newspaper. While in high school, he was cast as a lawyer in “Ladies of the Jury” and won his first case. He attended the University of Illinois and returned to get his B.A. there after World War II in 1947. He received his law degree from John Marshall Law School In 1951. In 1991, the school awarded him a Citation of Merit as a Distinguished Alumni.

In World War II, Larry was a second lieutenant, infantry platoon leader in the 12th Armored Division, earning a Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge. He remained in the Army Reserves upon his return home.

He began his law career as a Winnebago County assistant state’s attorney and later was named city attorney of Rockford. In 1964, he opened what is now known as Ferolie & Perrecone, a practice focused on personal injury law. At one time, he was cited as “Winnebago County’s Top Plaintiff Attorney.” He was a career member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers.

Larry was an active member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, serving as Secretary and Treasurer and as a member of the Board of Managers for 26 years. He also served several terms on the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association and served as chairman of its civil practice and procedure as well as tort law sections. He was particularly passionate about continuing education for lawyers, teaching about all aspects of personal injury trials around the nation.

As his law partner and career friend, Frank Perrecone says, “He was a role model, mentor and friend for so many of us in the Italian-American community and the legal profession for many decades. He was a man who commanded and deserved respect. He was truly loved by so many and respected by all that encountered him along the way.” Frank Perrecone, also a career Justinian, probably because of Larry Ferolie’s influence, is a highly respected member of his community and the Illinois legal profession in his own right.

Among Larry’s many contributions to the law:

Co-authored the Illinois Law Enforcements Manual;
Senior counselor for the Winnebago County and Illinois State Bar Associations;
Helped establish the Basic Injury Trial Practice Program for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America;
Established and directed the nationally recognized Annual Trial Evidence seminar for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education.
Larry was also active in the Rockford community. He served on the Board of Directors of the Rockford Civic Association, Crusader Community Health, sponsor of the Rockford Symphony, and was known for many years as the announcer for the Symphony’s Summer Concerts at Sinnissippi Park. He was also a member of the American Lombardi Club, Giuseppi Verdi Society, Elks Club, Knights of Columbus, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Reserve Officers Association, St. James Men’s Club, Justinian Society, University of Illinois Alumni Association and the University Club of Rockford. Larry was a classic example of the old saying, “When you want something done give it to a busy person.” He didn’t know how to say no to a military assignment, charitable responsibility or a client with a problem.

Larry married Gloria Bonomo on April 21, 1951, and they were married for 53 years. She preceded him in death in 2004. They had five children: John and Terry, who preceded him; Albert (also a lawyer and career Justinian with offices in Chicago); and Carl and Robert, who are in sales.

For over 50 years, he also regularly visited New Melleray, a Trappist monastery near Dubuque, Iowa, where he found great solace.

Larry, you will be missed. You are another example of the finest our community produces.

About Leonard F. Amari

Leonard F. Amari is a founding, co-managing partner of Amari & Locallo, a law firm that focuses exclusively on real estate tax assessment issues. He is a J.D. recipient from The John Marshall Law School, with honors. Amari has been a John Marshall trustee since 2000 and was elected president of the board in 2007. He is past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s State and Local Taxation Committee, and a member and past president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. He has received numerous honors from many organizations recognizing his service.

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