Fordham University mourns the death of Denis E. Dillon (FCRH ’55, LAW ’62), a longtime district attorney for Nassau County, N.Y.
Dillon, 76, died on Aug. 15 at his home in Rockville Centre, N.Y., after a long battle with lymphoma, according to his daughter Barbara Dillon.
In the 31 years he served as district attorney, Dillon oversaw several high-profile cases, including those of mass murderer Colin Ferguson as well as Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco. Only two other district attorneys—Robert Morgenthau of Manhattan and Henry Wade of Dallas—served longer terms.
Dillon was first elected in 1974 as a Democrat, but changed his affiliation to Republican in 1989 after the local Democratic Party adopted an affirmation of abortion rights in its platform. Dillon had run for governor on the Right to Life Party line in 1986, and the issue of abortion was one about which he was passionate.
“My father had a passion for justice and public service, and he believed in a professional prosecutor’s office,” Barbara Dillon told The New York Times on Sunday. “He strove for fairness, and I guess one of the things is that he was a voice for those who didn’t have one.”
Born in 1933 in the Bronx, Dillon worked as a police officer in New York City while attending Fordham Law at night. He went on to work for the U.S. Department of Justice, at which he helped ensure the enforcement of civil rights laws.
In addition to Barbara Dillon, he is survived by his wife of 49 years, Anne, his daughter Alice Marie Dillon and his sister, Nora Murphy.
Visitation hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17 and Wednesday, Aug. 18 at Thomas A. Glynn & Son Funeral Home in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19, at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, N.Y.