John Dailey

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2023 at 2:48 pm

ALBION – John Murray Dailey was born in Albion, N.Y. on June 26, 1931, to William Murray Dailey (who went by “Murray”) and Mary Connors Dailey.

John was raised in Albion, graduating from Albion High School in 1948. He graduated Niagara University in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

John was then admitted to Harvard Law School, his most profound and favorite educational experience. After being invited to Harvard Law Review, he graduated highly ranked in the Class of 1955 and was a proud alumnus, following the school closely for years.

After law school, John took an unusual path and spent the next three years driving harness horses throughout New York State for his father’s stable. His racing career was brief but glamorous; it was the late 1950s and tracks were jammed with tens of thousands of spectators (and bettors) each night. John’s unusual combination of law degree and harness racing won him national notice, including profiles in the New York Times and Boston Globe, a radio interview with Howard Cosell, a print feature by famed syndicated sportswriter Red Smith, and even an appearance as a winning contestant on the then-popular prime-time network TV game show, “What’s My Line?,” in August 1958. (The segment with John is available on YouTube at the 20-minute mark right after tennis champ Althea Gibson.)

In 1957, one of his law school classmates invited him to dinner with an acquaintance named Marie Carr. Marie worked in PR in Manhattan and led a lively social life. In later years, they fondly recalled their immediate connection at dinner, and they were married within 15 months in 1958.

After marrying, John took a job in Rochester, N.Y., at Dynacolor Corp. The newlyweds moved to Brockport, where their first child, John, was born in 1959. In 1961, he combined his twin passions of law and horse racing when he took a job in New York City as a lawyer at the NYS Harness Racing Commission. The young family moved to Eastchester, N.Y., where sons James and William were born in 1961 and 1965.

Professionally, John spent most of his career as chief counsel for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. The lone exception to this long public service was a 4-year stint as a solo practitioner in Albion in the early 1970s. John had many accomplishments as a lawyer and was well-respected when he retired in the late 1990s. Notably, he sat “second chair” at the US Supreme Court in 1979, seeing a case he had initiated argued victoriously before the Court by the NY State Attorney General’s Office.

John and Marie retired to Albion in 1996, and soon after began splitting the year between Albion and Deland, Fla. They loved the small-town feel and tranquility of both places. In later years, John was a loving caregiver to Marie, who passed away in 2016 after a long illness. In recent years, John lived with his nephew Mark Christy, who is the son of John’s late sister, Susan. As roommates, John and Mark enjoyed playing golf and caring for John’s loyal dog, Brit.

Throughout his life, John’s main focus was always his family. He consumed news and information voraciously, routinely conquered the NY Times crossword and other challenging puzzles, and was a tough debate opponent, so one needed to know their stuff to engage with him. He reveled in raucous playtimes with his sons, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. He followed sports, especially golf, the Buffalo Bills and the NY Yankees (his late wife’s favorite team). He had a great sense of humor, laughed easily and was not above roaring at the dumb jokes of teenagers.

Until his last days, John played golf three times a week with his League friends in each of Albion and Florida. John was also a fan of streaming TV programs, especially foreign detective shows. He loved to drive and listen to audio books, with detective stories a constant. He was a regular churchgoer (and generous benefactor), and his faith was a constant.

John was predeceased by his siblings, including Patricia Quarantello and Susan Christy.

He is survived by his three sons, John (Angela), Jim (Eileen) and Bill (Kris); his seven grandchildren, James, Meghan, Mary, Julia, Will, John and Caroline; and his three great-grandchildren, Conor, Fiona and Weldon.

He passed away believing he would soon be reunited with loved ones, and his family takes comfort in the strength of his belief.

His Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, May 6, at 10 a.m. at Holy Family Parish/St. Joseph’s Church in Albion. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Albion, N.Y.

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