Francis X. Kilgannon pioneered the paralegal program at Nassau Community College as one of its first adjunct professors. Having taught business law there for more than half a century, the Hempstead lawyer may also take the crown as the college’s longest-employed instructor.
"He must have had clones," said his daughter, Kara Symington, 52, of Rocky Point. "He never stopped."
Kilgannon, known to many as Frank or FXK, turned down offers to teach elsewhere in order to keep molding students from working-class families at the community college, his family said. Outside of the classroom, he frequently took on cases fighting for educational services for students with disabilities, often pro bono. In one case, he secured funding from a local school district for a deaf child to receive tutoring through high school.
"He was always a very generous, open man who tried to help anybody who needed help," said his brother, Owen Kilgannon, 82, of Nassau Shores.
Frank Kilgannon was a fixture of Nassau’s court system and a member of the Nassau County Bar Association for over 50 years.
"People in the courthouse at every level knew him," said his nephew, Corey Kilgannon, 55, of New York City.
Frank Kilgannon died on May 23 in Hempstead of stroke complications. He was 82.
Kilgannon was born on Oct. 6, 1938, in Rockville Centre to Irish immigrants. He grew up in West Hempstead and was a proud alumnus of Chaminade High School. He attended college at the University of Dayton for a year before transferring to St. John’s University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He received his law degree from New York University. Besides his stint in Ohio, Kilgannon spent his whole life in Hempstead and West Hempstead. He served as the first president of the board of education for West Hempstead’s St. Thomas the Apostle School.
Kilgannon married his wife, Susan, on Aug. 22, 1964. They had five children. He handled adoptions for many families, including his own: Two of his children are adopted, and several of his relatives have adopted as well.
Kilgannon also lent a helping hand wherever else his family needed one.
"He was the one they called and the one that was there for everybody in the family," said his sister, Mary Abatemarco, 80, of Rockville Centre.
Kilgannon enjoyed taking his family fishing, camping and traveling. Over the years, he brought his kids to countries like Costa Rica, Brazil and Egypt. He often kept a notebook in his back pocket to record his observations. He embodied "curiosity and poking around and always being an explorer," said his nephew, Corey.
At home, Frank loved swimming at the beach and had a soft spot for animals, bringing home many pets for his children and grandchildren. He coached kids’ teams in basketball, baseball and soccer when few other volunteers stepped forward.
"He wasn’t an athlete, but he coached because he wanted to step up and do it for the kids in the neighborhood," said his son, Timothy Kilgannon, 37, of Long Beach.
"If he wasn't our coach, he was on the sidelines every single game again cheering us on," added Frank’s daughter, Kristen Murphy, 47, of North Merrick. "He was our constant."
Staying close to his roots, Kilgannon delighted in listening to Irish music and relished a decadeslong family tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at The Plaza Hotel.
"He really enjoyed every second of life," said Symington. "He never had an argument with anyone — except in court."
Frank’s other survivors include his son, Kevin Kilgannon of West Hempstead; daughter, Jennifer Obando of West Hempstead; sons-in-law Roger Obando and Brian Murphy; brother-in-law Joseph Abatemarco; and seven grandchildren. His parents were Margaret and Owen Kilgannon.
A service was held for Kilgannon on May 28. He was buried in the Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.