Known as fair, intelligent, and considerate, acting Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof, died unexpectedly at the age of 68 last Thursday.
Honorof, who was a Port Washington resident, was not only “liked by everyone in the courthouse,” but a devoted father of two, Nassau County Judge Howard Sturim, who worked closely with Honorof for 12 years as his law secretary, said.
He lived in Port Washington for the past 13 years, and in Manhasset the 15 years before that.
“No matter what he was doing, he would drop everything,” Sturim said. “He would turn to the jury, shrug and say ‘it’s my kids,’ to him no one was more important.”
“The three things he loved most in life were his kids, his job and sailing,” Marshall Honorof, Judge Honorof’s son, said. “He was even-tempered, he was fair-minded, and he had a slow, methodical, meticulous approach to everything both in his personal and professional life.”
Marshall, 30, said that his father liked “hearing out both sides of a situation and coming to a consensus based on facts not based on what people were feeling or who was shouting the loudest.”
Judge Honorof was often the mediator when his sister and him fought, something they did a lot when they were younger, he said.
Marshall, a journalist, said the thing his father said the most to him was to tell the truth. “When I was very very young, I had broken a lamp and made it shatter,” Marshall said. He asked me if I did this and I said ‘no,’ trying to hide it, and he said, ‘if you tell me the truth, you won’t get into trouble, it’s always important to tell the truth;’ And since then, I’ve tried to follow that example, and my sister as well.”
In the courtroom, Honorof was known to be extremely fair, deliberate, and knowledegable, court officials said.
“He was wonderful in terms of relating to defendants and explaining concepts to juries that would otherwise be difficult,” Sturim said. “They would walk away understanding the legal concepts and issues that confronted them; he was a terrific judge.”
“He was not a person who shot from his hip,” Sal Marinello, judge Honorof’s law secretary who has also known him for 40 years, said. “He put a great deal of thought into his decisions; he had very good judgment.”
Honorof’s sudden death was shocking to many who knew him because they saw him as a physically fit person who swam laps every day at Hofstra University.
His cause of death is still being determined.
“He would swim one lap for every year he lived,” Sturim said. “He would swim every day almost without exception unless he was sick.”
“The first thing we did before we went on vacation anywhere was to find a pool so that he could swim his laps every day,” Marshall added. “He’s very fit, he’s passed that on to my sister and me, we take exercising very seriously as well.”
Judge Honorof was also known for his love for sailing, the justice loved sailing so much that in 2011 a state ethics committee granted him a license to work weekends piloting sightseeing boats.
Marshall says his father’s love for sailing began long before he was born. “I have no recollection of not being on a boat,” he said. “When I was a couple of days old, my mother yelled at him because he was dangling my feet in the water off the back of the boat.” As a family, they would go sailing all the time but a little bit less now that his sister Lindsay and him live out in the city, he said.
The justice would go out sailing three or four times a week if he could, and “he had a very strong group of sailing buddies,” Marshall said. His father and his sailing buddies went almost anywhere, from Bermuda, the Caribbean, to as far out as Tahiti, an island off the coast of Australia, he said.
Despite his strong law background, Judge Honorof never pressured his children to follow in his footsteps, his son said.
“I asked him repeatedly growing up if he wanted me to be a lawyer or judge like he was and he told my sister and me over and over again, that the most important thing was to do what made us happy,” Marshall said. “And, if we were worried about money, that along as we were doing what made us happy, the money would take care of itself.” His father was “incredibly proud” of him and his sister for following their passions, he added.
Honorof graduated from Temple University School of Law and George Washington University.
He worked as an assistant district attorney from 1974 to 1979 in the county’s DA office. After leaving the DA’s office, he had his own private practice for 15 years. Then in 1996, he was appointed to the county bench as a court of claims, and in 2005 he was appointed as an acting justice to the Nassau County Supreme Court.
A memorial service for Honorof will be held Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 11 A.M. at a sailing buddy’s house at 402 Centre Island Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771.