Many years ago, I wrote about the passing of a lawyer named Palmer McGee.  He was from a different generation, one who viewed the practice of law as a profession and someone who had a small but important role in my life.  But perhaps the best thing about him was what my mother (who had worked with him) told me: He was a lovely man.

I don’t know if Ralph Monaco ever met Palmer but they were cut from the same cloth. Ralph was a lawyer’s lawyer and a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was the person that other lawyers looked to when they needed advice whether for a case, their job, or life. Ralph became the second youngest President at the time of the Connecticut Bar Association nearly a decade ago — and it was entirely earned and well-deserved.  He was both ahead of time and from another time too.

Ralph passed away suddenly on Saturday far far too early. And I’m heartbroken by his  passing.

I first met Ralph over 20 years ago in the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Section.  He was a few years ahead of me both in professional practice and in personal life.  But he never let his work stand in the way of his family who he loved immensely.  He even brought his toddler to a YLS retreat — Baby Bjorn and all.  We travelled together to ABA conferences for a number of years, shared good meals, and many laughs.

I know that in the days and weeks to come, much will be shared about Ralph’s life.  His family and law partners were closest to him (you can view his professional profile here);  I just knew Ralph as one of the greats.  And while there are many attributes that I could talk about with Ralph, I want to focus on three:

  1. Whenever I saw him, he had a smile as wide as the ocean.  Before the pandemic, he chaired the Connecticut Bar Association Opioid Task Force and he and I worked together again on an Opioid Summit that was held at Quinnipiac Law School when I was Chair of the Connecticut Bar Foundation Fellows.  Always with the smile and warmth.
  2. Ralph was cool under pressure. He had a successful personal injury practice, dealing with a wide range of issues. But he was always prepared.  If he had butterflies, it was well camouflaged by his demeanor. I remember his speech at that Opioid summit. He knew exactly what he was going to say; nothing was left to chance.
  3. Ralph was a leader.  Ralph chaired the CBA YLS a few years before me; I was in the ladder to go up and you can be darn sure that I watched everything he did.  He was inclusive — always willing to help others, particularly newer attorneys.  And he made you feel heard.  When I appointed Ralph to help revise our bylaws when I became YLS President, he accomplished the task without drama.  He just led by example.  Years later when he became the CBA President, he had to navigate multiple crises — never shying from the tasks.

Ralph’s passing will leave a huge void in Connecticut.  He is gone much too soon and I will miss him for what he was — one of the best people around.  He is survived by his wife, Dina, and two daughters, Abby and Anna, and an entire community of friends and family that will miss him dearly.

May His Memory Be for a Blessing.