Rocco Palese

Rocco Palese - 1924

Rocco Palese, born on July 4, 1893, in Garaguso, Italy, to Domenico and Luicia Palese, immigrated to America with his family in 1898, settling in Camden by 1906. Domenico Palese initially worked as a bartender, and the family resided at 318 Cherry Street. By 1910, they had moved to 266 Pine Street, where Domenico owned a bar. Rocco Palese attended Richard Fetters Elementary School, Manual Training & High School, and later pursued law studies.

In 1914, the Palese family lived at 400 Mechanic Street, where Domenico operated a bar, while Rocco worked as a notary public at 319 Market Street. By 1917, Domenico acquired the bar at 900 South 4th Street, a property retained by the family into the 1940s. Rocco Palese officially became a member of the New Jersey Bar in February 1917 and began working for prominent Camden attorney Albert S. Woodruff. During World War I, he served as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army before returning to Camden and resuming his legal practice.

Rocco married Margaret Kelly on June 28, 1922, and became the first Italian-American admitted to the bar in Camden County. Active in politics, he served as a New Jersey State Assemblyman. His wife, Margaret K. Palese, was also involved in civic affairs, earning recognition as Camden’s “1939 Woman of the Year.”

By 1930, the Palese family resided in the Parkside section of Camden, specifically at 1462 Wildwood Avenue. Rocco’s law office was located at 328 Market Street. In 1950, he served as a judge for Camden County. In 1959, the Palese family had moved to the new Cherry Hill Apartments, and Rocco’s law practice had offices at 716 Market Street, where his son, Domenick Donald Palese, had joined him as a lawyer. Both Rocco and Domenick served as judges. The law practice moved to 814 Federal Street by 1970. Rocco Palese retired sometime after that, with no listing in the New Jersey Bell Telephone Directories after 1977.

Rocco Palese peacefully passed away in his sleep in February 1987, followed by his wife Margaret in July of the same year.


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