Former Town of Hempstead Attorney Joe Ra dies of COVID-19

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Former Town of Hempstead Attorney Joe Ra dies of COVID-19
(Photo courtesy of The Island Now archives)

Joe Ra, a former attorney and councilman for the Town of Hempstead, died of COVID-19 in late November, according to multiple reports. 

Ra was a member of Hempstead government for nearly four decades and worked under five different supervisors. His son, Ed, currently serves as a member of the state Assembly.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ra moved to Franklin Square in 1970 where he began a private law firm. Ra’s educational background stems from St. John’s University, where he earned his bachelor’s and law degree. 

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said, “Joseph J. Ra was an institution of knowledge and a fountain of wisdom,” from his Twitter account. “It was an honor to work along his side and I thank him for the years of advice and guidance he instilled in me and @HempsteadTown as a whole. He will be sorely missed,” he continued.

Ra’s political career began as the deputy town attorney in 1984 before serving as counsel to the town board in 1989, according to multiple reports. He became a councilman himself from 1994 to 1999, before being appointed town attorney for over two decades. Ra retired from that role in 2020 to work as counsel to the Nassau County Board of Elections. 

Anthony D’Esposito, the councilman for the Hempstead’s 4th District, said from his Twitter, “Today, I lost a dear friend & @HempsteadTown prepares to say goodbye to a gentleman who left America’s largest town way better than he found it.” 

D’Esposito finished with, “Thank you for being you and caring as much as you did. Rest easy, Mr. Ra. Much love.” 

The wake was held Friday, Dec. 3 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and later 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Franklin Funeral Home in Franklin Square. A funeral mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 4 at St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Franklin Square.

Ra is survived by his children, Edward,  Joseph and Jillian of Franklin Square and his four grandsons. He is preceded in death by his wife, Joanne, whom he was married to for 35 years.

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