Login | June 25, 2018

Colleagues, friends remember attorney Dominic A. Musitano Jr.

Longtime Akron attorney Dominic A. Musitano Jr. passed away peacefully at Rockynol Nursing Home in Akron on April 12. He was 83. Pictured here Musitano with his wife Evelyn. (Photo courtesy of Lori Robinson).

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 15, 2017

An attorney with an infectious personality, who enjoyed taking younger lawyers under his wing, giving back to the community and getting to know everyone he came in contact with—those are some of the ways in which Dominic A. Musitano Jr. is being remembered.

Musitano passed away peacefully at Rockynol Nursing Home in Akron on April 12. He was 83.

“My father always brought happiness to any room he was in,” said his daughter, Lori Robinson. “He took a genuine interest in people and had a knack for befriending everyone he dealt with.

“He loved practicing law,” said Robinson. “He touched the lives of so many people, who will undoubtedly remember him for his kind nature.”

Former colleague Scott Smith, a partner at Shifrin Newman Smith Inc., described Musitano as the “guy you would want to have sitting next to you at lunch or dinner.

“He was an ‘old school’ charming Italian guy, who exhibited class and treated everyone very well.”

Born in Campbell, Ohio on July 17, 1933 to Dominic Sr. and Carmel, he was the second of their three sons.

Musitano spent the first three years of his college career at Ohio University, where he met Evelyn Pearce. The two were married in 1954 and lived in Bath Township for many years. They have three children Lori, Dominic III and Michael.

In 1954, he enrolled at The University of Akron, graduating the following year with a bachelor’s degree in political science, English and secondary education.

After receiving his juris doctor from Akron Law School, he started his own practice in Akron in 1960, where he handled matters ranging from domestic relations and probate to personal injury as well as some criminal cases.

Musitano remained a sole practitioner his entire career until retiring at age 80.

For a number of years, he shared office space and a secretary with sole practitioner Marvin Manes.

“Dominic was a straight shooter,” said Manes, who retired in 2001. “He was a very good lawyer. He treated his clientele very well. He was never condescending toward his clients and had no pretense about being any better than they were.

“He was a good family man,” said Manes. “He was very close to his children.”

Most recently Musitano rented space from the law firm Shifrin Newman Smith, which is located at 411 Wolf Ledges Pkwy.

It was during his time at this office that he met Smith. The two served as co-counsel on many civil litigation and domestic relations cases over the years.

“Dominic was a mentor to me,” Smith said. “I learned a lot from him. He always had an open door policy for anyone who needed a question answered.

“He was never critical. He would simply say ‘I would approach it this way,’” said Smith. “I remember when we would go into the courtroom everyone would shake his hand.”

Joe Kodish, director of the Legal Defender Office of Summit County and a part-time civil litigation attorney, also maintains an office at the Wolf Ledges location. While he knew Musitano beforehand, Kodish said he got to know him a lot better when their offices were in the same building.

“Dominic was a unique individual,” said Kodish. “He was a great guy and a ‘people person.’ He had a good sense of humor.

“He and I exchanged views and discussed our cases. We sometimes referred cases to one another,” said Kodish. “You could trust that anyone you referred to Dominic was in good hands.”

Musitano was very active in the Democratic Party, including serving as Democratic Committeeman for the J. Precinct in Bath Township and as treasurer for the Summit County Young Democrats.

He was also campaign coordinator for 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Mary Cacioppo and 9th District Court of Appeals Judge John W. Reece as well as working on five of retired Judge Marvin Shapiro’s campaigns.

“Dominic was my campaign treasurer when I ran for the Akron Municipal Court as well as when I ran for juvenile court and common pleas court,” said Judge Shapiro, who was on the common pleas bench when he retired.

“Dominic and I knew each for 50 years,” said Judge Shapiro. “We practiced law in the same office, were opposing counsel earlier, political allies and life friends.

“When I was elected to municipal court his eldest son was my bailiff.”

As opposing counsel, Judge Shapiro said Musitano was always fair and his word could be relied upon.

“After a case he enjoyed sitting down with the opposition and sharing an adult beverage,” said Judge Shapiro. “He was a genuinely good person and had a wonderful sense of humor.”

In addition to working on political campaigns, Musitano also served as a member of The University of Akron Advisory Committee and on the Copley-Fairlawn School Board.

A member of both the Ohio State and Akron bar associations, Musitano did a stint as chair of the Akron bar’s former Family Law Committee. He also sat on the board of trustees of the Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital Foundation and was a member of the Sons of Italy Lodge 685 in Akron and the American Arbitration Association.

Musitano received the Outstanding Service Award from the Akron chapter of United Cerebral Palsy and the Greater Akron Legal Secretaries Association gave him the “Boss of the Year” award in 1985.

Frannie Brooks, who served as Musitano’s secretary for the last 15 years, said he was a “great boss and a very good attorney.

“He always did his best for his clients and showed empathy for what they were going through,” said Brooks. “He was wonderful to me.”

Kodish said Musitano’s favorite hobby was playing Gin Rummy. “Dominic was a member of the Sons of Herman social club and he would often go there to play cards.”

His other hobbies included watching the New York Yankees and reading Tom Clancy novels.

Robinson said the family often vacationed in Ocean City, New Jersey, where her father befriended many strangers.

“My dad lived life and enjoyed whatever he did,” Robinson said.

Musitano was laid to rest on April 15 at Rose Hill Burial Park.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughter, Lori (Rocky) Robinson; sons Dominic (Jill) and Michael (Anne); grandchildren, Taylor, Tony, Tucker, Cassie, Sonny and Sal; brother, Joe (Kathy); sister-in-law, Mary Lou and many nieces, nephews and friends.