(1924 - 2010)
DECOF, LEONARD, 86, a resident of Providence, RI and Palm Beach Gardens, FL, died Friday, December 31, 2010. He was the beloved husband of Veda I. (Gross) Decof and the late Adele R. Decof. Born in Providence, he was a son of the late Morty and Rose (Metz) Decof. Mr. Decof was a captain in the United States Marine Corp. and served during WWII in the Pacific Theatre Operations in Guam from 1943-1946 and also served stateside in Parris Island, SC 1950-1952. Mr. Decof was a 1948 graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School in 1953. Mr. Decof practiced law in Providence, Rhode Island for over 50 years and was recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for his accomplishments as a trial lawyer. He established the first law firm devoted to plaintiffs' causes in 1975. His son, Attorney Mark B. Decof, became his partner in 1980, and Mr. Decof practiced law until his death. Mr. Decof was a member of the American Bar Association, Rhode Island Bar Association, and the R.I. Association for Justice. He was a Fellow and past Dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and a Fellow of the Inner Circle of Advocates. He was a Diplomate of the American Board of Trial Lawyers, and was a two time recipient of the RI Bar Assoc. Award of Merit for Outstanding Service to the Public and the Profession. Mr. Decof was listed annually in the Best Lawyers in America, he was recognized in Town & Country Magazine in its list of Best Trial Lawyers in America, the only Rhode Island lawyer so listed. He was selected by the Matthew-Bender & Co. Legal Publishers as one of the 10 outstanding legal experts in the United States for the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Constitution. Mr. Decof lectured for decades to lawyers, legal organizations, hospitals, physicians and medical organizations, including the American Bar Association, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Practicing Law Institute, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, American Association for Justice, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers, State Bar Associations throughout the United States, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Boston University Law School, and Suffolk Law School. He was the Chairman, Administrator, and Principal Lecturer for the RI Supreme Court Clerkship Program, and was a Member and Chairman of the RI Board of Bar Examiners. Mr. Decof authored several legal publications, including "Preparation of a Case for Trial" published in the RI Bar Annual, "Damages in Child Death Cases" published in Trial Magazine and the Notre Dame Law Review, and a textbook entitled "Opening Statements" published in the Art of Advocacy Series by Matthew-Bender & Co. Leonard Decof was recognized as "One of the Most Important Voices of the Tort Scene in America." He tried cases in state and federal courts not only in RI, but throughout the United States. He also successfully argued cases in appellate courts, both state and federal, throughout the U.S. and successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing precedents in the areas of civil rights and antitrust. Mr. Decof established many precedents, both in RI and nationally, in the areas of medical malpractice, product liability, insurance, punitive damages, pharmaceutical liability, antitrust, civil rights, and sports litigation. Mr. Decof was an avid golfer and sports enthusiast. He combined his two passions of golf and law by representing several of the wor ld's largest golf equipment manufacturers, Ping, Callaway, and Nike Golf, as well as professional golfers such as Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Sam Snead, Billy Casper and Gardner Dickenson. He served as General Counsel for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and was the lead lawyer in an antitrust case against the PGA Tour and the United States Golf Association on behalf of Karsten Manufacturing Co., the maker of Ping golf clubs. As a result of his legal work in the world of professional golf, Mr. Decof was named one of the ten most powerful people in the world of golf by Golf Digest and Golf International Magazine. In 1991, he was asked by Governor Bruce Sundlun to represent the State of Rhode Island to prosecute the major civil claims arising from the credit union failure and crisis in Rhode Island. On behalf of DEPCO, he recovered hundreds of millions of dollars and was publicly and officially commended for his work by Governor Lincoln Almond in February 2001. In 1986, Mr. Decof was chosen by the Presiding Justice of the Superior Court of RI and by unanimous vote of all the Justices of the Superior Court to serve as special prosecutor for the investigation of certain conduct of the Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Decof, along with his son and daughter, founded the Adele R. Decof Foundation in memory of Mrs. Decof. Since 2000, the Foundation has established and supported cancer centers at Roger Williams Medical Center and the Miriam Hospital. In addition to the financial support the Foundation provided to the cancer centers, Mr. Decof and his family have been actively involved in the mission of the Cancer Centers. Mr. Decof was a member of the Ledgemont Country Club, Metacomet Country Club, Carnegie Abbey Club, and the Frenchman's Creek Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. He was also a member of the University Club and the Aurora Club. Mr. Decof enjoyed playing golf, skiing, running and playing squash. He loved music, particularly jazz, and was an accomplished piano and saxophone player. He also was a licensed pilot and enjoyed recreational flying for many years. Besides his wife, he is survived by his children Andrea B. Decof and her husband Ed Malitsky, and Mark B. Decof and his wife Erica Decof; and his grandchildren Hallie Rose Malitsky, Mallory B. Decof, Emily K. Decof, and Zachary T. Decof. He was the brother of the late Donald Decof and Arlene Zisserson. His funeral service will be held Wednesday, January 5th at 10 AM in Temple Beth-El, 70 Orchard Ave., Providence with a burial in Temple Beth-El Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Adele R. Decof Foundation, One Smith Hill, Providence, RI 02903. Shiva will be observed at 127 Pratt St., Providence on Wednesday, January 5, 7:00 pm 9:00 pm, and Thursday, January 6, 2:00 pm 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm 9:00 pm. Arrangements by Sugarman-Sinai Memorial Chapel.