Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 120, page(s) 712-713


Donald Gaffney of New Britain died on April 18th, 1935, a few days after his thirty-eighth birthday. He was born in New Britain April 6th, 1897, the son of Judge Bernard F. Gaffney and Alice Sherlock Gaffney. He is survived by his wife, formerly Esther Hodson of Waterbury, and by an infant son, Donald Stephen Gaffney.

Donald Gaffney attended the public schools of New Britain and was graduated from Yale College in 1919. While still an undergraduate, he served as Quartermaster in the Naval Reserve during the World War. He then entered the Harvard Law School where he received his law degree in 1922.

Before leaving the Law School Mr. Gaffney was admitted to the bar. After graduation he commenced the practice of law in New Britain and devoted himself to that practice assiduously until his death. Business came to him quickly and largely. He soon became the leading trial lawyer of New Britain and his practice brought him constantly before the Superior and other courts. The preparation and trial of litigated cases was his work in life. He made his first argument in the Supreme Court of Errors in March, 1923, and appeared there in thirty-eight cases in the eleven years of his active practice. In 1928, he was appointed Assistant State's Attorney for Hartford County and served until his health failed in the summer of 1934.

A handsome man, tall and graceful with the dark hair and high complexion of his race, Donald Gaffney was the incarnation of the spirit of youth. He took a keen and lively interest in the doings of the world and of his own generation, its work and its play, its religion, its politics, its literature, its sports, its song and its laughter. A serious-minded man, where he was interested he was intensely interested; hence his power as a trial lawyer.

To Donald Gaffney the function of the lawyer was the promotion of justice. To that end, he was courteous, straight-forward and reasonable with his opponents. But when he believed his client was in the right he was a formidable fighter, industrious in preparation, zealous in combat, and never discouraged. His methods were simple, direct and persevering. Few lawyers who die so young meet with such brilliant success.