Albert S Commette

April 21, 1911October 20, 2011

Albert Sheehan Commette of Port St. Lucie West, Florida and Mantoloking, New Jersey, passed away Thursday, October 20, 2011 at the age of 100.

Funeral services will be held at Holy Family Church, Port St. Lucie on Friday, October 28 at 1000 AM. A celebration of life service is planned for the spring at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bay Head, New Jersey.

Al was a well known Maritime Lawyer and the last survivor of six children.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 75 years, Nikki; his five children, Gail McShane, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; son, Denis Commette, and wife, Carol, of Mantoloking, New Jersey; daughter, Susan Berry, and husband, Cal, of Port St. Lucie West, Florida; daughter, Nina Corby, of Georgetown, Washington, DC; and son, Peter Commette, Esq., and wife, Connie, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; 15 grandchildren and 24 great grand children.

Born in 1911 in Newport, Rhode Island, Al attended De La Salle High School in Newport, lettering in four sports and was captain of the debating team. He graduated at 16 in 1927, receiving his school’s highest honors, gold medals for English, Religion, Latin, Science, Mathematics, and Overall Excellence, as well as a Knights of Columbus scholarship for college. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1931, with honors, and from Fordham Law School in 1934.

Mr. Commette was admitted to practice law in the State of New York in 1934, and began his career as in house defense counsel for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, New York City. After 20 years, he left to become a partner for almost 30 years in the New York City law firm of Budd, Quencer, Brown and Commette, eventually becoming Commette, Quencer and Annunziato. He retired from over 50 years of practice as of counsel to Heidell, Pittoni and Moran, a firm headed by one of his former partners. During the course of his career, Mr. Commette was one of the first inductees into the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1960. He was a member of the Maritime Lawyers’ Association, and was the founding Chair for The Committee on Stevedoring and Terminal Operations. He was a Proctor in Admiralty, the highest rating for a member of the Maritime Law Association, and was an AV rated attorney in the Martindale-Hubbell directory for attorneys, its highest ranking. Mr. Commette was a litigator in many of the major maritime incidents, such as the 25 July 1956 crash between the MS Stockholm and the Italian liner Andrea Doria. The Andrea Doria was approaching the coast of Nantucket, bound for New York City, and collided with the east-bound MS Stockholm in what became one of history's most infamous maritime disasters. Mr. Commette was lead attorney for the Universal Terminal & Stevedoring Corporation in the Bernard Screen case, one of the seminal cases that extended the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act’s $500 per package limitation to stevedores under the Bill of Lading. He was a principal litigant in negotiating multiple settlements in a major oil refinery explosion in Texas and was particularly proud that, even though he worked for the defense, he was able to secure immediate, significant payments to those injured and the families of those killed, without prejudice to their rights to be compensated for more at a later date. While law was his day job, Al was passionate about sailing and tennis, which he learned at an early age growing up in Newport. He spent many years cruising on his sailboat with his beloved Nikki and extended family. He started the tennis program in the early fifties at the Mantoloking Yacht Club, Mantoloking, New Jersey. Al loved to teach young children the basics of tennis, a vocation he continued until the age of 93. A trophy is presented each year in his honor at the Mantoloking Yacht Club to the child who best demonstrates the love and sportsmanship of the game.

Al will be missed by all who knew him

In lieu of flowers, donations in Al’s memory may be made to Save Barnegat Bay at An on-line memorial to Mr. Commette may be found at


  • Visitation Thursday, October 27, 2011
  • Funeral Mass Friday, October 28, 2011

Albert S Commette

have a memory or condolence to add?


October 31, 2011

We read of Mr. Commette's passing in our local newspaper. We did not know him, but upon hearing the eulogy by his son we were offered a glimpse into what must have been a wonderful life. We offer the family our sympathies upon his passing.

I had the privilege of sailing against his son, Peter, many years ago. It appears the admirable traits of the father have been passed along to his children. My friend, Gretel, and I have the family in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

Warren Doscher, 380 SW Todd Ave., Port St. Lucie, FL

Geoff Adaire

October 31, 2011

Loved the man like a father. One of the most electric wits I've ever met! God speed Papa!


Geoff Adaire

October 28, 2011

Dear Susan ---Know I am thinking of you and your family at this time..

October 26, 2011

Dear Gail. We never knew your father, but reading his obituary tells us how lucky you were to have him all those years. When we met you, we realized you were something special. Now we know why. Apples don't fall far from the tree.

Please accept our sincere condolences to you and your family.

Love, Mac and Dottie Wheeer
Mystic, CT

Karen Gryb

October 26, 2011

Dear Commette sorry for your loss, Al was a wonderful. interesting man..I know he will be missed. My condolences to Nikki, and her whole family.

Serena Corby

October 26, 2011

Papa was an amazing and gentle man. A person who was accepting and forgiving, loving and kind. My life and the lives of two of his great grandchildren have been blessed to have him as a grandfather. You will be missed Papa forever......

Jessica Boden

October 26, 2011

Wow, what a life. Lauren, we know how much your grandfather meant to you and the special bond you shared. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire Commette family.

Raymond Murphy

October 25, 2011

Al was a gentleman. I am privileged to have worked with him as an attorney. The world was much enriched by his honesty, integrity, and good will towards all. Mary Pat and I offer our sympathies, prayers, and best wishes to the Commette family.

Jim Cunningham

October 25, 2011

An impressive writeup about an impressive life lived by an impressive man. I am so happy to have been able to see him (and Nikki and many other family members) again over the last year and a half. You were all blessed to have had him as your patriarch for so long.

Judy Ottley

October 25, 2011

So sorry for your loss but what a wonderful life and devoted wife and family he had. Enjoyed the photo gallery and send my sympathies to all.