Don Kiley, longtime Great Neck attorney, dies at 89

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Donald T. Kiley Photo courtesy of www.kileylawfirm.com

Don Kiley, a Great Neck lawyer and father of five lawyers, died on Sept. 10 from cardiac arrest at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 89.

To Kiley, his work was not just his profession, it was his passion. His daughter, Cathy McGuire, told Newsday that she and her siblings were used to seeing their father hunched over his desk at home or meeting with clients in their kitchen late into the night.

Don Kiley Jr. said his father always had an “eclectic case load” and would often take on cases outside of his practice area.

“My dad was a sucker for people that were wrongly represented or given a bad draw, even if they had no money. He handled tons of cases pro bono,” he said.

Kiley’s legacy has touched his children throughout their careers. Kiley Jr. handled a case in the Bronx with a judge who was a contemporary of his father’s. When Kiley Jr. gave the judge his name, the judge asked if he had any relation to Don Kiley from Fordham Law School. When the opposing attorney heard what the judge had to say about his father, he asked the judge to recuse himself. The judge told him, “I haven’t seen Don Kiley in 20 years but if his son is half as good as him, you’d be better off adjourning the case.”

Kiley was born in the Bronx on Dec. 5, 1928. He attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland for three years before receiving his high school diploma from Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx.

Kiley then went to Fordham College and graduated with degrees in philosophy and mathematics in 1950 before being drafted to serve in the Korean War.

After returning from the Army, Kiley attended Fordham Law School, where he graduated as the valedictorian of the class of 1955. He also served as editor of the Fordham Law Review.

Kiley began his legal career at the Manhattan-based law firm Cahill, Gordon, Reindel and Ohl, where he has been followed by his grandson, Kevin Kiley Jr., who was recently offered a job there after graduating from Fordham Law School.

After completing a fellowship at Columbia Law School, Kiley worked as a sole practitioner in the Bronx. He represented his father, Edward Kiley, who was forced to retire before he was eligible to receive Social Security, in a case against the New York police commissioner.

The Supreme Court ruled in their favor and Kiley’s father was reinstated to his post of deputy inspector.

In 1974, Kiley opened his own practice on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, which is where he also raised his five children.

The firm moved to Great Neck in 1990 when Kiley’s sons Don Kiley Jr. and Kevin Kiley joined their father’s practice. This created the firm Kiley, Kiley and Kiley PLLC, which was later joined by James Kiley. 

Kiley was active in his church, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayside, throughout his life. In 1979, he was appointed by Bishop Thomas V. Daly to the pastoral council of the Diocese of Brooklyn, which he served for three years.

Kevin Kiley told Newsday, “He believed in propping up the community and would always say, get involved or stop complaining.”

Kiley retired in 2001, but never lost his interest in the law. Kiley Jr. said his father was giving him advice on cases even while hospitalized. “His brain never slowed down,” he said.

When Kiley retired he never missed one of his grandchildren’s many sporting events.

Kiley is survived by his wife of 61 years, Catherine Kiley, five children and 16 grandchildren. Services for Kiley were held at Church of St. Anne in Garden City on Sept. 15. He was buried at Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Flushing, Queens.

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