Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Centuries ago, some wise Greek writer stated that the measure of a man's life is the well spending of that life. Anthony E. Grillo was a man whose life was certainly well spent.
Anthony E. Grillo was born on January 21, 1915, in Hamden and passed away in Florida on February 5, 1999. He attended Hamden public schools and was later graduated from Yale College in 1936 and from Yale Law School in 1941. While attending law school, he taught Spanish and English in the New Haven evening school program in order to help pay for his education.
In September, 1941, he volunteered for service in the United States Army. He entered as a private and was discharged four and one-half years later as a first lieutenant. During his military service, he graduated from the Army's counterintelligence school. His skill and command of at least three languages was significant in his counterintelligence work. His military service took him to, among other places, Aruba, where he met his future wife, Jeanette, whose father was stationed there as a representative of the Dutch government. They were married there in 1944 and ultimately became the parents of three sons.
After his discharge from the service, he and his wife returned to Hamden, and, after passing the Connecticut Bar in 1946, he became associated with the New Haven firm of O'Keefe, Johnson and O'Keefe. Some years later he became associated with William Halloran and Frank Daley. With the experience gained from those associations, Attorney Grillo later opened his own office for the general practice of law.
From the time that he was admitted to practice, he developed and maintained an interest in government and community affairs, especially in the town of Hamden, where he was active in the Democratic party. He was a prosecutor in the town court and later became town counsel. Attorney Grillo was also active on the service side of Hamden community life. He was one of the original group that brought the first Lion's Club charter to town, and he eventually became president of that organization. He was also influential in a group known as the Better Boys Brigade, preparing boys to become good citizens, and he worked in the Boy Scout movement.
In 1959, Governor Abraham Ribicoff appointed Attorney Grillo to be the workers' compensation commissioner for the third district. The governing statute for that office was and is remedial and humanistic, and he was ideally suited to administer it by his attributes of compassion and understanding. In discharging the duty of that office, his goal was not to be one of inflexible justice, but of justice tempered with mercy.
In 1964, Governor John Dempsey appointed Commissioner Grillo to the Court of Common Pleas, and in 1967 that same governor appointed him to the Superior Court. Judge Grillo served some eighteen years as a trial judge. He was well qualified for judicial office by experience, interest and temperament. He was an insightful student of the law and an adept writer. His writings demonstrated a studied craftsmanship and were thorough in their preparation, logical in their analysis and decisive in their tone. It is a mark of his competence as a trial judge that, at a time when the Reporter of Judicial Decisions was the only person to select what trial court opinions were to be published in the Connecticut Supplement, fifty-nine of Judge Grillo's opinions were printed there.
On February 18, 1983, Governor William O'Neill elevated Judge Grillo to the Supreme Court, where he served until January 21, 1985, when he reached the constitutional age limitation of seventy years. Despite the fact that he served on the Supreme Court for only two years, he authored fifty-six opinions that, again, demonstrated the preparation, scholarship and analysis so apparent in his trial court work. He was a valued and productive member of the court and had a good rapport with the Bar there. Upon his retirement, he worked for a number of years as a state referee in New Haven.
Judge Grillo's life in public service was shaped by humble beginnings, was schooled in the humanities and in the law, and was forged in the crucible of an active trial practice, meaningful political experience and respectable community service. His well spent life calls to mind the following lines by Walter Foss: "Let me live in a house by the side of the road where the race of men go by. The men who are good and the men who are bad. As good and bad as I. I'll not sit in the scorner's seat or hurl the cynic's ban. Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man." Justice Grillo will be remembered as just such a man.