Obituary of Judge Bernard D. Gaffney
Judge Bernard D. Gaffney, a life-long resident of New Britain, Connecticut, died peacefully on January 14, 2024. The son of the late Attorney Cyril F. Gaffney and Helen (Downes) Gaffney, Judge Gaffney was predeceased by his loving wife of more than fifty years, Mary Ellen (McAuliffe) Gaffney in February 2012 and his brother, Attorney J. Brian Gaffney.
Judge Gaffney graduated from Philips Andover Academy, Yale University and The University of Connecticut School of Law. He served honorably in the Counter-Intelligence Corp of the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Upon returning home from duty, Bernard married the love of his life, Mary Ellen McAuliffe (or Meg as she was affectionately called by friends and family). Bernard and Meg settled in New Britain where he began practicing law. His practice spanned twenty-five years and included many special times practicing alongside his brother, Attorney J. Brian Gaffney, cousin, Attorney D. Stephen Gaffney, and uncles; Attorneys Leo Gaffney and John (Jack) Downes.
Throughout their lives, Bernard and Meg especially enjoyed traveling for long weekends throughout New England and New York; often to places where they could see a show, walk the beach or where Meg could shop. They enjoyed tailgating and rooting for Yale University Football, planning fun family vacations (including several memorable summers in Groton Long Point). As their children grew and married, they made a point to travel and attend every family event including grandchildren’s births, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings. After Meg’s passing, Bernard continued to enjoy traveling to visit and share special moments with his children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren.
In 1982, Governor William A. O’Neill appointed then Attorney Bernard D. Gaffney to become a Judge of the Superior Court. Thereafter, in addition to his assignments as a trial judge presiding on both civil and criminal cases, Judge Gaffney served as a member of the Connecticut Judicial Review Council and the Connecticut Judges Association. Upon the completion of the New Britain Court House building, Judge Gaffney was appointed its first Administrative Judge, a position he held until his retirement at age seventy. Following his retirement, still vibrant and dedicated to the law, he was appointed a Judge Trial Referee where he presided on legal matters for over a decade.
Judge Gaffney served as counsel to the Mattabassett District for more than fifteen years, and was an Assistant District Attorney for Hartford County for close to twenty years. He was Assistant Corporation Counsel to the City of New Britain, and a longstanding member of the New Britain Bar Association. Over his years as an attorney, he tried many significant cases and argued several consequential cases on appeal, including before the United States Supreme Court.
Bernard will be greatly missed by his children, Sue Ellen Poyton (Robert) of Bristol, Kathryn Lancia (Joseph) of Greenville, South Carolina, Sharon Walsh (Thomas) of Leonardtown, Maryland, and Attorney Bernard Gaffney (Maureen) of Simsbury. “Judge” (as he was affectionately called by his grandchildren) was loved and adored by his thirteen grandchildren, Mackenzie (Goodrich) von Allworden (Josh), Morgan Goodrich, Steve Goodrich, Jenna (Lancia) Westbrook (Clay), Kara Lancia, Krista Lancia, Brendan Walsh, Conor Walsh (Hannah), Eileen Walsh, and Bernie, Brendan, Meghan, and Mary Kate Gaffney. During his lifetime, Judge was also delighted to welcome three great-grandchildren, Logan and Hudson Westbrook, and Evelyn Walsh. He was never happier than during the times he was surrounded by his loving and adoring family.
Judge was a humble gentleman with a keen intellect and a respect for his profession. More importantly, he was a man of deep faith with loyal and unwavering love for his family. He will be forever missed by those who loved and admired him.
On behalf of the Gaffney family, a special thank you to all the staff at Arbor Rose Assisted Living Facility for their kindness, assistance, and care during our father’s last several years.
Friends and family are invited to a Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday (Jan. 25, 2024) at 10:30 AM at St. Maurice Church 100 Wightman Road New Britain. Burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery, 1141 Stanley St. New Britain. Visitation will be Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Farrell Funeral Home 110 Franklin Sq. New Britain. Donations may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.