Cover photo for Edward J. De Franco's Obituary
Edward J. De Franco Profile Photo
1933 Edward 2020

Edward J. De Franco

1933 — October 26, 2020

DELMAR - Edward J. De Franco, Sr., a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and leader in criminal justice and information technology, passed away peacefully on October 26, 2020, at age 87. Ed was born in New York City on May 1, 1933, to the late Anthony and Rose (Meola) De Franco. He was the loving husband of Angela De Franco, his wife of 64 years, whom he always called his best friend and the love of his life. Ed was the kindest father in the world to his sons and their wives: Anthony and Linda (Kiemele), Ed Jr., and Patty (Chiurri), and Stephen and Jennifer (Whiteman), and the most awesome grandfather to eight grandchildren, Ryan, Alessandra, Lia, Tessa, Christian, Luca, Abby, and Gianna. With his selfless and quiet demeanor, Ed was a well-respected leader and mentor. People listened to him because he had first listened attentively to them. He never hesitated to express his opinions and was regarded as someone who would offer advice tactfully and respectfully. With this attitude, Ed’s coworkers said he could unite a room full of officials in conflict, speaking softly and carefully. His public service spanned five decades in criminal justice, computer science, and public administration. Ed received his Bachelor of Science from Fordham University in 1955 and his Certificate in Russian Studies from the University’s Russian Institute. As an ROTC student at Fordham, Ed was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and joined the US Army Security Agency (ASA, a branch of the NSA) in 1955. He graduated from the ASA School at Fort Devens, then completed his military service as Acting Commanding Officer of the Voice Branch of the ASA School. During the Cold War, the Army Security Agency made full use of his fluency in Russian and his knowledge of Soviet history and politics. He was promoted to First Lieutenant. Ed then earned a Master of Public Administration degree with Honors from The City University of New York in 1962. He received a full scholarship to attend graduate school at NYU, earned his Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy in 1967, and was awarded the Founders Day Certificate for “consistent effort of outstanding scholarship performance.” Ed’s lifelong work ethic was remarkable. He earned all of his degrees at night while working full-time as an NYPD police officer to support his growing family. He joined the NYPD initially as a patrolman, but his ongoing graduate work quickly helped advance him to a specialized organized crime unit. His three graduate degrees were highlighted in a New York newspaper article admiring his dedication, titled “Police Officer Gets [His] Third Degree.” In 1968, Governor Rockefeller recruited Ed to serve as Deputy Director of the newly created Identification and Intelligence System (NYSIIS) to computerize criminal intelligence statewide. This achievement was widely recognized as the first computerized criminal identification and monitoring system in the world; it was the template for the FBI. Several State agencies recruited him for similar work. For the Division of Probation, he led the creation of a data analysis program to predict who could be released with the lowest risk of repeat offenses. For the Department of Health, he devised an IT system to most effectively allocate State resources to treat substance abuse. The success of these and other programs led other states and Federal agencies to adopt them. Throughout his career, Ed was well-known - and far ahead of his time - for his warnings about the potential for technology to violate individual rights; in all of these programs, he installed safeguards to protect personal privacy. Ed was a founding member of the NYS Forum on Information Research Management, served as Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Center for Technology in Government, and as President of the Capital District Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. A pioneer in information technology, Ed received many State and national awards, including the 1978 Award of the American Society for Public Administration for his “outstanding national contribution to the advancement and professional development of criminal justice administration” and the 1982 Hewlett Packard “Leading the Way in Government Award.” After a lifelong career at the Federal, State, and local levels, Ed retired from government in 2001 to carry on his lifelong passion for formal teaching. He continued faculty duties at several colleges well into his 70s, including Russell Sage and Empire State College, as well as an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Albany, where he was an integral part in forming the new Ph.D. program in Information Systems. Ed would always say that above any professional accomplishment, he was most proud of his time spent raising and mentoring his children and grandchildren. With Ed’s never-ending encouragement and support, his three sons sought to emulate his academics by completing degrees in medicine, law, and business. For years, Ed told every one of his secretaries, “If any of my sons call, you are to interrupt whatever my meeting, no matter whom I’m with.” Somehow, Ed managed to find time to cut out thousands of articles from innumerable publications for his children and grandchildren, who long ago lost count of how many of his overstuffed envelopes arrived by mail. Most of all, Ed loved fostering the joy of reading in his grandchildren; to all of them, he sent a never-ending stream of books. He could never stop smiling when he told them it was their success that made his sacrifices and hard work worthwhile. Ed was a devout Roman Catholic and devoted member of St. Thomas Church. You would find him with Angela in the same pew every Sunday and holy day. He expressed his faith in the everyday kindness, patience, and love that he shared with his wife, family, friends, and co-workers. Ed was an avid reader of biographies, history, and politics. He loved to gather family together, play bridge with friends, listen to classical music, attend the symphony, opera, and theater, hear or tell a good story, and reach out to help a neighbor in need. With every new friend, Ed would pull out his wallet and show his wedding photograph with Angela. “This was the happiest day of my life,” he would say. The De Franco family sends deepest thanks to the staff at Albany Medical Center and Our Lady of Mercy Life Center for their love and care. Ed was predeceased by his brothers Joseph and Carl. He is survived by his beloved wife Angela, brother James and wife Elaine, his sister Marie Ruvulo and husband Vito, his sister-in-law Anita, and his brother-in-law Anthony and wife Mary, and many nieces and nephews. He leaves behind a devoted family who treasure the wisdom and compassion that he and Angela instilled in them. Ed will be interred at the Saratoga National Cemetery and given a burial with military honors. Condolence messages can be left on the website for the Applebee Funeral Home of Delmar, NY. The family is preparing a virtual celebration of his life that will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ed’s memory can be made in his name to his favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, at https://www.stjude.org.
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