“Charlie loved Wagner. He was the ultimate gentleman,” said Wagner College President Richard Guarasci. “He will be missed.”
A respected jurist whose career spanned more than 40 years, D’Arrigo was known for his even-tempered demeanor and the dignity and integrity he brought to the bench.
Born and raised in the Staten Island community of New Brighton, the second youngest of four children, D’Arrigo’s father was an Italian immigrant and businessman who owned several grocery stores on Staten Island’s North Shore.
While a student at Curtis High School, he met the love of his life, the former Norma Formica, who was also a Curtis student. The future Mrs. D’Arrigo was a member of the water ballet team at Curtis. At the beginning of her sophomore year, she exchanged glances in her English classroom with a young man by the name of Charlie D’Arrigo.
A courtship ensued that lasted for several years, including the three years, from 1946 to 1949, that D’Arrigo served as an Army staff sergeant stationed in post-war Germany. They were married when he was discharged in 1949.
During their 67 years of marriage, D’Arrigo was a constant supporter and partner in his wife’s many community and charity endeavors. He was often seen accompanying her at fundraisers, where the two were known to take to the dance floor together.
“We had a wonderful life together. He was always very supportive of whatever I was involved with at the time,” Mrs. D’Arrigo recalled.
D’Arrigo earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Wagner College in 1951, and went on to earn his juris doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School. He practiced law in St. George before before he began his career on the bench in 1973.
D’Arrigo served as surrogate judge of Richmond County from 1981 to 1999, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. Among his duties as surrogate, performing adoptions was his greatest joy. He particularly loved meeting parents who would show him pictures of children with whom they were “united in my chambers.”
Prior to his service as surrogate, he was elected a civil court judge and served as judge-in-charge of the Richmond County Civil Court and as acting state criminal court justice.
He was the recipient of numerous honors for his dedicated service to both the legal profession and the community at large.
“I have been blessed in my career and in my life,” D’Arrigo would say.
In addition to his wife Norma, D’Arrigo is survived by a son, Charles Jr., two daughters, Sherilyn D’Arrigo Swords and Janice D’Arrigo Van Stolk, and three grandchildren.
Arrangements are by Casey Funeral Home, 350 Slosson Ave., Staten Island, N.Y. Visitation is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 from 7 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, April 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Monday, April 25 at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, 30 Manor Rd., Staten Island, to be followed by burial in Moravian Cemetery, 2205 Richmond Rd., Staten Island.