John Pace, a successful lawyer, developer and businessman from West Islip who became an ardent breast cancer activist soon after his wife was diagnosed with the disease, died Sunday at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center after battling prostate cancer. He was 80.
“John and Lorraine had a beautiful life together. He cared for her throughout her battles with breast cancer and more recently a hip replacement. She likewise cared for him as he battled with prostate cancer for the last two years,” said his son Gregory Pace of Manhattan.
Pace was honored by Good Samaritan Hospital in 2013 for his commitment to the fight against breast cancer.
“John Pace was a friend to Good Samaritan Hospital and the entire West Islip community. His contributions to the region as an attorney, a real estate developer and a philanthropist are immeasurable,” read a statement from hospital spokeswoman Theresa Jacobellis.
Born in the Bronx, Pace graduated from Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School in 1958.
After graduation, Pace joined the Suffolk County Bar Association and became a partner with his brother Anthony in the law firm Pace & Pace. In 1961, he married Lorraine Trim of Brooklyn and settled in West Islip, where they raised three children.
Pace concentrated on real estate, mortgage financing, trial litigation, negligence, criminal, commercial, matrimonial and zoning law. He also worked for Citibank and Chase Manhattan Bank as a closing attorney.
In 1978, Pace served as general counsel for the Town of Islip Community Development Agency, where he set up a mortgage lending department. He was also appointed on numerous occasions to act as a referee in mortgage foreclosures by various Supreme Court justices.
He was active in politics and helped his brother Anthony become a leader of the Islip Town Republican Party, Gregory Pace said. He was also a town zoning leader for many years and along with his brothers, Frank and Anthony, oversaw the development of more than 200,000 square feet of office, industrial and retail space in Islip Town.
In addition, he and his brothers developed the subdivision of large tracts of acreage in western Suffolk County, featuring the well-known Pace Landings at West Islip, where he had lived since 1983 next door to his brothers.
In 1992, Pace became involved in the breast cancer awareness movement after Lorraine was diagnosed. He helped form the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund (where he was also a board member), Breast Cancer Help Inc. and the Long Island Cancer & Wellness Center, all through which he helped to raise millions of dollars, his son said. He also served as a board member of Breast Cancer Help Inc.
In addition, Pace advised other not-for-profit breast cancer groups on Long Island. In 2006, he stepped down as pro bono general counsel and secretary of Breast Cancer Help but remained active on its board of directors, his son said.
He was a community activist, advocating for many projects, including a West Islip bike path. He had also served as a Suffolk County Community College trustee.
In 2000, Suffolk Life newspapers honored him as their Person of the Year in the law category for the Town of Islip. He was honored by the Sons of Italy, and named Man of the Year for the Association for Children with Disabilities in 1973. In 2006, he was recognized at Breast Cancer Help’s annual gala.
In addition to his wife and son, Pace is survived by another son, John Jr., of Southampton; daughter Lisa M. Pace of West Islip; twin sister Josephine Grenci of West Islip; two brothers-in-law; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by brothers Anthony and Frank.
Visitation will be Tuesday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Chapey and Sons Funeral Home in West Islip.
A liturgy of Christian burial will be celebrated Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, West Islip. Interment will follow at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Breast Cancer Help Inc., 32 Park Ave., Bay Shore, NY 11706.