Millard L. Midonick ’36
January 18, 2014
Millard (Will) L. Midonick ’36 was a judge for both Manhattan family and surrogate courts, and a longtime member of the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors. He passed away on January 18, 2014, at the age of 99.
Midonick was born in Manhattan in 1914. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II as the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Brownsville. After graduating from Columbia College and the Law School, he worked at the National Labor Relations Board before joining Polier Midonick & Zinsser as a name partner in 1946.
Midonick became a family court judge in 1962. A champion of the rights of children and women, he famously criticized a New York statute that made it virtually impossible to prosecute violent sex offenders. Elected to the Surrogate’s Court in 1972, Midonick handled hundreds of high-profile estate cases. The best known of these was a dispute between the children of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko and the executors of his estate. In 1975, Midonick found in favor of the Rothko children. He also presided over disputes involving the estates of poet W.H. Auden and composer Igor Stravinsky.
Midonick joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher as of counsel after stepping down from the bench in 1982. He then served as of counsel at both Tenzer, Greenblatt, Fallon & Kaplan and Fensterstock & Partners. Maintaining lifelong ties to Columbia Law School, Midonick was an adjunct professor from 1980 to 1982 and served on the Law School’s Alumni Association board of directors from 1970 to 1978. He was also a member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors from 1997 until the time of his death.
Midonick is survived by his wife, Jill Claster Midonick, and several nieces and nephews.