BANGOR and BROOKSVILLE – Susan R. (Lewis) Kominsky passed away Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in her home in Bangor, after a five year battle with cancer. Against very long odds Susan survived, in large part because of her own indomitable strength and the support and love of her daughter, Reva, and her constant companion and friend, George. They did everything possible to make Susan comfortable in her own home until the very end.
Susan was a highly skilled and respected trial lawyer. She grew up in The Bronx, New York, but came to Bangor in 1966 where she began practicing law with Lewis Vafiades and Nicholas Brountas. In 1971 Lew, Nick and Susan formed the law firm of Vafiades, Brountas, & Kominsky, LLP. She was a premier Maine trial lawyer when there were few women trial lawyers in the State of Maine. Susan blazed the way for the countless women trial attorneys who now follow in her footsteps. She practiced in many areas of the law, including criminal law, but eventually her practice came to be primarily family law, and since 1987 she was listed in Best Lawyers in America in the area of family law. Susan served on the Board of Governors of the Maine Trial Lawyers Association. She is a Fellow of the Maine Bar Foundation and was a founder and director. She was a member of the Board of Bar Overseers and served on its Grievance Commission. She has served on numerous other professional committees, including the Select Committee on Professional Responsibility the Family Law Division Advisory Committee Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc., the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Maine Bar Association and the Family Law Advisory Commission. She won many awards and honors, but perhaps most significantly to her she received the Caroline Duby Glassman Award in 1996, recognizing her contributions on behalf of women in the legal profession, and then in 2010 she received the McKusick Award from the state court’s trial judges and justices. The McKusick Award was created by the judges to recognize a person who has contributed substantially to the administration of justice and the delivery of judicial services to the people of Maine. Her expertise and professionalism were models for other lawyers, regardless of gender or area of practice.
Susan loved the law, but her interests went well beyond the practice of her profession. She cared deeply about education and community affairs, serving as a Trustee of the University of Maine, a director of the Bangor YMCA, and as director of the University of Maine School of Law Foundation. She loved music and the arts and served as Clerk of the Board of Directors for Kneisel Hall, a chamber music school, in Blue Hill. She was a Trustee of the Spruce Run Endowment Trust, co-chairing a capital fund drive for Spruce Run, a local domestic abuse organization. Susan enjoyed reading, especially with her new friend, the Kindle, and especially a good mystery written by a woman mystery writer. She loved her home and gardens in Brooksville and spent many joyous summers smelling salt air and entertaining friends in grand style. Susan loved to travel and explore the world with family and her special friends, the Honorable Margaret Kravchuk, U.S. Magistrate Judge and her husband, Harold Hamilton. Of course, she also loved tennis. When her illness took away her freedom of movement, she spent countless hours watching the tennis channel and never missed a match featuring Rafa Nadal, her very favorite player.
Mostly Susan loved her family and pets, especially her golden retrievers. She was an integrated person, thoughtful, generous, wise, and fair minded in her dealings with everyone. She is survived by her daughter, Reva and her fiancé, Brent Elwood; and son, Andrew Kominsky, M.D., and his partner, Angelica Orozco; three grandchildren; a beloved sister, Pat of Seattle; two nieces; a great-niece and great-nephew; and two special cousins, Richard Kane and his spouse, Melody, and Margie Law and her husband, David Lawrence. Her loss is deeply felt by George Kurr, truly her best friend and most devoted companion for the last five years. She will be deeply missed by all those who relied on her wisdom and humor to make their days better.
The family thanks her care givers including the many nursing students from the University of Maine and Bangor Area Visiting Nurses.
A celebration of Susan’s life will be held at a later date. The family will be sitting Shiva Monday, Aug. 19, through Wednesday, Aug. 21, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the home of Susan Kominsky, 24 Howard Street, Bangor. Those who wish to remember Susan in a special way may make gifts in her memory to The Animal Orphanage, 71 Airport Road, Old Town, ME 04468; Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Center, 700 Mount Hope Ave., Bangor, ME 04401; Spruce Run, P.O Box 653, Bangor, ME 04402; or a charity of your choice. A service of Brookings-Smith, Bangor. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.