The walls of Frank Lucianna’s Main Street office in Hackensack, New Jersey, are a testament to the experiences and people who have defined and sustained him through the years.
Pictures of family mix with military service medals and images of “Skylark,” the B-24 on which he served as an engineer during World War II. There are citations from the many groups that have honored him for his work, both in the courtroom and the community. And there are mementos of his student days at Fordham, including a photo of him in cap and gown, smiling broadly, arm-in-arm with his mom on graduation day, 1948.
Ever since then, Lucianna has been one of Fordham’s most loyal supporters. “No matter what amount it was, I always gave,” said the 92-year-old attorney, whose gifts to his alma mater now total more than $260,000.
In recent months, Fordham has begun to recognize donors like Lucianna, people who have given to the University for more than 20 years and whose quiet, steady generosity has helped generations of students. These loyal supporters are being distinguished through the newly formed Doty Society, named in honor of the late George E. Doty, FCRH ’38.
Lucianna first enrolled at the University in 1942 but soon left to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He survived an attack on his B-24 aircraft, which was shot down over Yugoslavia. “I’m a very thankful man. I lost 14 of my friends during the war, and I think about them every day,” he says, reciting their names. “They were only 18, 19 years old—they didn’t get a full life.”
After returning to Fordham, he became captain of the track team and went on to Fordham Law School, graduating in 1951. He credits the University for giving him an ethical sense that’s kept him from “stepping over the red line” in his work as a criminal lawyer—and for fostering in him a firm belief in redemption, even for some of the most hardened criminals. “I go to Mass every day,” he says. “It’s hard, but I do it and still make it in to court in time.”
Lucianna and his wife, Dolores, have been married for 60 years, and their daughters have followed in his footsteps: Nancy, FCRH ’83, LAW ’86, has her own law practice, and Diane, LAW ’81, is a partner with her father. (A third daughter, Susan, died of breast cancer in 2007.) And now Lucianna’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Wafer, is a sophomore at the University.
“I have an outstanding debt to Fordham that I can’t forget,” he says. “I’ll keep contributing as long as I can.”
—Ryan Stellabotte and Tom Stoelker