January 13, 1931 - January 17, 2017
Kenneth Garfunkel, a former Norwalk fire commissioner and one of the city’s longest practicing attorneys, died Tuesday. He was 86.
Garfunkel suffered a stroke at his home in Norwalk Tuesday evening and died at Norwalk Hospital with his family by his side, said his son, former Town Clerk Andrew S. Garfunkel.
“He just celebrated his 86th birthday last Friday and he went to work Tuesday morning like he normally did,” Garfunkel said. “Dad didn’t want to retire. He said, ‘I still have clients. I don’t fish. I don’t golf. What am I going to do with myself?’”
Kenneth Garfunkel was born Jan. 13, 1931 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family moved shortly afterward to Norwalk. He graduated from Norwalk High School in 1948 and earned his law degree from New York University School of Law. From 1955 to 1957, he served in the United States Army.
In 1957, Garfunkel began practicing law in Norwalk in partnership with Judge J. Richard Fay. After Fay’s death in 1976, he retained the partnership name of Fay & Garfunkel. As a family law attorney, he handled wills, probate issues and real estate closings.
“He was a good guy and a good lawyer,” said Frank N. Zullo, former Norwalk mayor and local attorney. “He served with distinction as a fire commissioner.”
Throughout his life, Garfunkel engaged himself in the public life of Norwalk.
He was a past president and member of the board of trustees of Congregation Beth El, and past president of Norwalk B’nai B’rith. He served as a scoutmaster and later chairman of the Southern District Mauwehu Council of Boy Scouts of America. He was a founding member and attorney for the Norwalk High School Marching Band Parents Organization.
In 1961, Garfunkel ran for city council on the Democratic ticket. During the 1970s, he switched his political affiliation to Republican and served as a city fire commissioner for 12 years under Republican Mayor Frank J. Esposito. In 1997, Garfunkel ran for probate judge, his son said.
“Dad was not only a prominent attorney in Norwalk but he was chairman of the District A Republican Party several times,” Andrew Garfunkel said. “He served a couple terms as State Central Committee member from Norwalk.”
The younger Garfunkel, a Democrat, said he was proud to have been sworn into his last term as Norwalk town clerk by his father. He said his father was most proud of his four grandsons and his service as a Norwalk fire commissioner.
Garfunkel was predeceased by his wife, Jean (Chariott) Garfunkel. He is survived by his sons, Jeffrey (Rebecca) Garfunkel, of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Andrew Garfunkel of Norwalk, and grandsons Justin Garfunkel, Steven Garfunkel, Joseph Garfunkel and David Garfunkel.
He is also survived by his first wife, Elaine Katz, of Boynton Beach, Fla. (the mother of his two sons), his partner Rene Pomerantz, and many nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be Thursday, Jan. 19, from 4-8 p.m., at Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Ave. The funeral service will be held Friday, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m., at Temple Beth El, 109 East Ave. Donations can be made to the Fire Victims Fund, c/o Norwalk Fire Department, 121 Connecticut Ave., 06854.