Brooklyn legal community celebrates life of ‘Uncle Lou’ at ceremonial mass
Members of Brooklyn’s legal community gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Thursday to say goodbye to Louis Fiorillo, the former deputy county clerk who worked in the court system for the past 66 years and was affectionately known as “Uncle Lou.”
“He helped everyone from pro se litigants, and poor persons, all the way up to staff lawyers and judges,” said court officer Joseph Musolino, whose job it was to drive Fiorillo to work every day since the late 1990s. “Everyone who reached out to him, no matter who you were, he looked at you like family. He might have been small in stature, but he was a giant to us.”
The Rev. Patrick Keating led the ceremonial mass that celebrated the life of Fiorillo in front of a crowd of family members, friends, judges and court staff.
“He had a special place in his heart for those who seemed to get lost, seemed to need help, and one of the things they said,” Keating said. “People would joke that he had a ‘collection of people,’ that not only was he the deputy county clerk, but he was also known as Uncle Lou, a fixture of the court.”
During his sermon, Keating issued a challenge to those in the audience — “take all that is good about Lou and put it into practice,” Keating said. “When you see someone lost, find that goodness that we saw in Lou and try to help them out.”
After the traditional Thursday Mass ended, Keating allowed Musolino to speak to the congregation. Musolino, who spent nearly every work day with Fiorillo, joked that he was one of his “new” friends because he had only met him 25 years ago.
Musolino talked about Fiorillo’s life, which started in Brooklyn, where he went to Manual Training High School in Park Slope, continued in Georgia where he went to basic training after he joined the U.S. Army, and then eventually his return to Brooklyn where he got a job working for the State Department of Mental Hygiene.
“Lou eventually transitioned to the County Clerk’s Office, which was then housed in the old Kings County Courthouse where Brooklyn Law School now stands,” Musolino said. “The court moved to the current location in 1959. We joked with Lou that they tried to build the new building around him.”
Musolino said that Fiorillo’s favorite thing to do every day was to go out for lunch. His favorite restaurants included Queen, Marco Polo and the Heights Cafe. His one rule at lunch was that there was no talk about work.
“As everyone knows, Lou worked hard, but he played hard as well and looked forward to lunch every day,” Musolino said. “It was unquestionably the highlight of his day.”
Before the mass officially ended, Musolino made sure to thank Theresa O’Leary, Hon. Nancy Sunshine, Gregory Cerchione and Donna Farrell for helping to organize the memorial event.
“Over the course of a lifetime, many people come in and out of our lives, but few have as meaningful an impact as Lou had on us,” Musolino said.
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