Judge Toni A. Bean, the second African American woman to...

Judge Toni A. Bean, the second African American woman to serve as a Suffolk County District Court judge, died Saturday at age 62. Credit: Suffolk County Courts

Lifelong Amityville resident Toni A. Bean, the second African American woman to serve as a Suffolk County District Court judge and a mentor to young lawyers of color, died on Saturday.

Bean succumbed to a recent illness, her family said. She was 62.

In June 2004, Bean was appointed to Suffolk's district court by then-County Executive Steve Levy and was later elected in November. She followed Judge Francel Trotter Bellinger, of North Babylon, as the second African American woman to serve in that capacity.

Judge Toni A. Bean in 2004 with then-Suffolk County Executive...

Judge Toni A. Bean in 2004 with then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who appointed her to the Suffolk County District Court. Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

Bean dealt with many cases including domestic violence and probation violations, her former colleague Derrick J. Robinson said, and she always handled them with “dignity and fairness” — a staple of the way she lived her life.

“She holds a special place in the hearts of many that had the privilege of working with her or appearing before her,” said Robinson, a retired Suffolk County Supreme Court judge. “She also has a special place in the history of Suffolk County courts."

Bean graduated from Amityville public schools and continued her education at SUNY Brockport, where she majored in accounting and received a bachelor’s degree in 1981. She earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law in 1985 and was admitted to the New York State Bar a year later.

Before joining the Suffolk County bench, her legal career began at Walker & Bailey Esqs., where she worked with her late aunt Cora T. Walker, who was a prominent lawyer in Harlem. She joined the firm of Waxman & Wincott P.C. on Long Island and eventually opened her own legal practice in Amityville, specializing in personal injury litigation, real estate transactions and wills and estates.

Her work surpassed the courtroom as she was involved in numerous organizations, including serving as a chairperson of the North Amityville Housing and Rehabilitation Association; a lifetime member of the Central Long Island Branch NAACP; a former member of the Town of Babylon Youth Court Advisory Committee; former trustee of the Amityville school board; and a former committee person for the Town of Babylon Democratic Committee.

“She didn’t do things to be recognized,” her sister Jane Bean-Folkes said. “She did them because she loved the people and the community and that was enough for her.”

She also was an active guest speaker at local schools, mentored young lawyers and spearheaded Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage celebrations at Suffolk courts.

Judge Toni Bean in 2008 with then-Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne...

Judge Toni Bean in 2008 with then-Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne Gregory.

“Toni always reached back to help others, so as other African American judges came onto the bench, she was a mentor to them and provided support and encouraged them through their journey,” her sister Lisa Bean-Johnson said.

She received countless awards from religious, educational and government organizations, but her biggest accomplishment was her 14-year-old son Matthew, her family said.

J. Stewart Moore, an attorney and founding member of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association, said Bean was always looking for ways to give back.

“With Toni’s passing, there are no women of color sitting in the Suffolk County District Court,” Moore said. “It’s a great loss to the legal and justice community.”

Victoria Gumbs-Moore, who was the first African American elected Family Court judge in Suffolk, said Bean was detail-oriented and a highly efficient judge who opened the doors for many.

“She showed that excellence is always appropriate,” Gumbs-Moore said. “She leaves a rich legacy.”

On Monday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone directed flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Bean, who most recently had been serving as an acting county court judge.

“With decades of service on the bench, she was someone of the highest integrity, and her tenacity and dedication to the people of this county was unmatched," he said in a statement.

Bean is survived by her son, Matthew Bean; sisters Lisa Bean-Johnson and Jane Bean-Folkes; nephews Brian Johnson and Aaron Johnson; and a host of other family and friends here and in Bermuda.

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