Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home

8630 Transit Road, East Amherst, NY


Hon. Mark G. Farrell

June 27, 1947August 26, 2019
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FARRELL - Mark G., Hon. August 26, 2019. Beloved husband of 47 years of Carolyn M. Farrell (nee Dachs); dearest father of Lara M. (Matthew) Hitchcock, Kristen A. (Matthew) Bonavita and Melissa G. (Christopher) Swank; grandfather of Colten, Oliver, Charlie, Kayleigh, Ellie and Teagan. Friends may call Friday 2-5 and 6-8 PM at the DENGLER, ROBERTS, PERNA FUNERAL HOME, 8630 Transit Rd., E. Amherst (1 mile north of Maple Rd., just past Klein Rd.). Friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial from St. Joseph University RC Church, 3269 Main St., Buffalo, Saturday at 10 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorials in memory of the Honorable Mark G. Farrell may be made to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, 901 Washington St., Buffalo, NY 14203 or Hospice Buffalo Inc., 225 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga, NY 14227www.denglerrobertspernafuneral.com


  • Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
  • Hospice Buffalo Inc


  • Visitation Friday, August 30, 2019
  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, August 31, 2019


Hon. Mark G. Farrell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Nicolas Foss

September 5, 2019

The Midwest Consortium on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse extends its heartfelt condolences to Judge Farrell's family and loved ones. The field of problem gambling is a small one, but replete with professionals of great talent and the passion to forge ahead and advocate for the prevention and treatment of this impactful disorder that has received little recognition to date. We have just lost one of those pioneers in the field and we will always remember the trailblazing achievements that Judge Farrell made - he has inspired us to continue forward with his momentum.

Steve Buckley

September 3, 2019

Judge as I fondly called Mark was a man of integrity and class as well as a gentleman. The Judge cared for others and gave so much of himself.

I will truly miss him.

My thoughts and prayers are with Carolyn and the rest of Marks family.

Mark Grisanti

September 2, 2019

I am so sorry to hear Mark had passed .My heartfelt prayers to the family. He had accomplished so much in life and we are all at a loss because he wasn't finished. He was a great friend. GOD BLESS

Don Feeney

September 1, 2019

I got to know Mark through our service on the board of directors of the National Council on Problem Gambling. He was one of a kind--intelligent, talented, multi-dimensional, and full of surprises. Every time I felt like I knew all about Mark, he'd say or do something that would make me realize that I was just scratching the surface. I cherished the time we spent together and just wish there had been more of it. He truly left the world a better place than he found it.

Judge Cheryl Moss

August 31, 2019

Judge Farrell was the first judge in the US to have a gambling court. He was definitely a great influence and pioneer in the establishment of Nevada's first Gambling Treatment Diversion Court of which I am the first judge to preside. It was an honor and a privilege to meet him through my late mother, Dr. Rena M. Nora. My sincerest condolences to his family. He will never be forgotten for all the amazing work he did to help people with gambling disorders.

Tom Marriscolo

August 31, 2019

The California Council on Problem Gambling wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the Farrell Family. Judge Farrell was a true crusader who worked diligently to help those in need.
I had the pleasure to interact with him at National Conferences and found him to be kind and compassionate.

While we mourn his passing we need to rejoice in the fact that we had him in our lives.

A good and decent man. May you Rest In Peace.

Tom Marriscolo
President California Council on Problem Gambling

Frank Kenny

August 31, 2019

It was a pleasure to meet you Mark this past June at the P’s family reunion. My time with you was limited to a short conversation that left me wanting more. You are a great man that did wonderful things for the community. I wish I had more time with you Mark and in absence of that, wish you well in your next journey. Looking forward to meeting you again in the future, up there, where we can continue our conversation. Blessings to you Mark and to your family and friends as well. 🙏

Deborah Haskins PhD

August 31, 2019

The Maryland Council on Problem Gambling extends our condolences to the family. Thank you Judge Farrell for the legacy of disordered gambling in the legal profession and your leadership towards the establishment of the first 2 gambling courts. Your compassionate leadership and legacy will affect gamblers and their concerned others into the future. You will be missed.

Debbie Anderson

August 30, 2019

Dear Carolyn, Lara, Kristen, Melissa & families,
Sharing some memories...
Mark & John, my husband,
became friends in law school,
Attorneys for Travelers & beyond.
When Carolyn & I were celebrating our 30th Birthdays, the guys decided to plan a “Surprise 30th” for us... each of us thinking the party was for the other! Needless to say, “What a surprise!”
Mark was instrumental in our moving to California through Travelers & of course, we were so thrilled & excited!
As the years went on, we enjoyed our summer visits to the country club & their backyard pool!
My family feels very blessed to enjoy our relationship to all of you,
Our thoughts, prayers & blessings...
❤️Debbie Anderson & family❤️

Chip Polston

August 29, 2019

I so very much enjoyed working with Judge Farrell on the Nat'l Council on Problem Gambling board. When he first joined the organization, reading his bio I was more than a little intimidated. What I found was a genuine and warm guy who loved to swap stories about the Kentucky Derby. We'll all miss him.



In 1996, Amherst Town Justice Mark G. Farrell established the nation's first suburban drug court, followed a year later by the first domestic violence court in Erie County. In 2001, he began the first gambling treatment court in the country, and in 2009, he began a court for combat veterans.

In these four innovative therapeutic courts in the Town of Amherst, Justice Farrell exercised the leverage he had as a judge to require defendants to get treatment in order to stay out of jail.

"He had a passion to help people who were struggling with addiction lead productive lives," said Susan Grelick, who was Amherst town supervisor from 1997 to 2005.

"Those specialized courts that he created were models for other municipalities throughout the country," said Grelick, who called the judge a "trailblazer."

Hon. Mark G. Farrell, 72, died Aug. 26, in his Amherst home after an illness of two years.

He was born in the Town of Tonawanda, the only child of James J. and Mary Kelly Farrell.

He attended Calasanctius, then graduated from Kenmore East Senior High School in 1965 and from the University at Buffalo in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in history.

A member of Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps as an undergraduate, he joined the Air Force in 1973. He was promoted to captain and served as area defense counsel in the judge advocate office on Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. He was discharged in September 1974 to return home to assist his widowed mother, who was ill.

He met Carolyn Dachs at a UB Law School social, and they married on Aug. 26, 1972, in St. James Church in Buffalo.

He was elected to Amherst Town Court in 1993 and soon became an innovator. He worked with the local treatment community to motivate defendants who were facing charges.

Drug Court was followed by the first Domestic Violence Court in Erie County and a Therapeutic Gambling Treatment Court in 2002.

"Getting a pathological or compulsive gambler to admit their problem is tougher than getting them to admit they're a heroin addict," Justice Farrell said at the time.

In 2009, Justice Farrell began a therapeutic court to address the specialized needs of combat veterans.

"He always talked about treating the disease rather than treating the crime, because he wanted to have an impact on the lives of people and their families," said Matthew Bonavita, a son-in-law.

When out in public, the judge was frequently approached by people who had appeared before him in town court or accompanied a relative who did so.

"They would say, 'I just want you to know you changed my life,' or 'You saved my son's life, or my daughter's life,' " said Carolyn M. Farrell, the judge's wife.

The graduations from Justice Farrell's therapeutic courts were filled with tears and smiles, his son-in-law said. The courts "didn't just change their lives, they changed their whole families' lives, too," Bonavita said. "That was my father-in-law's true legacy. Instead of going to jail, they fought a disease and they conquered it."

Justice Farrell took a stand in 2002, when he spoke out publicly about the inappropriate influence of partisan politics in judicial campaigns. During his unsuccessful 1999 campaign for State Supreme Court, Justice Farrell was pressured to make phone calls and a donation to the committee of county Democratic Party Chairman G. Steven Pigeon in order to be considered for an endorsement.

Justice Farrell called on the state Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate the inappropriate political pressure. Instead, in 2004, the state commission admonished Justice Farrell himself.

In an editorial, The Buffalo News said the panel unjustly "slapped the wrist of the whistleblower." Justice Farrell was widely hailed for speaking out, and later said, "It needed to be done."

After retiring from Amherst Town Court in 2013, he worked as a consultant and mediator and traveled internationally to share his expertise on specialized courts.

He was active in many organizations, serving as president of the UB Alumni Association and on the board of directors of the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Erie County and the National Council on Problem Gambling.

In 2007, Justice Farrell served on a state commission to recommend changes to the state court system. The same year, he became president of the 2,200-member New York State Magistrates Association.

Justice Farrell collected many accolades. He was named Jurist of the Year in 2002 by the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Erie County. In 2009, he won the Eugene W. Salisbury Magistrate of the Year Award from the state Magistrates Association.

Besides his wife of 47 years, Carolyn M. Farrell, he is survived by three daughters, Lara M. Hitchcock, Kristen A. Bonavita and Melissa G. Swank; six grandchildren; and nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday August 31 in St. Joseph University Roman Catholic Church, 3269 Main St.