Clive Cummis, Name Partner Of Sills Cummis & Gross LLP, Succumbs

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - 01:00

It is with profound sadness that we report the death of Clive Cummis, a towering member of the New Jersey bar who specialized in administrative law, casino law, and complex and multi-district litigation. He died on February 15 at the age of 81.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Cummis was born on November 21, 1928. He graduated from Tulane University in 1949 and received his law degree in 1952 from the University of Pennsylvania. After a tour of duty as a private with the U.S. Army, he attended the New York University law school where he received a master's degree in law in 1959.

He began his legal career clerking for a state appellate court judge. After briefly working for other law firms, he and another lawyer founded their own one-room law firm, paying their rent by writing briefs for their landlord, also an attorney. In 1971, he became a founding partner of the law firm now known as Sills Cummis & Gross, which has over 150 lawyers and offices in Newark, Princeton, and Manhattan.

Mr. Cummis was one of New Jersey's most successful fundraisers for the Democratic Party. He was appointed by President Clinton as a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships from 1993 to May 2001.He was a founding member of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and served on its executive committee.He was a director of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New Jersey, director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, a trustee of the Foundation of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a trustee of the Flame of Charity Foundation and a trustee of the Newark Museum. He was also a Commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. He served on the Board of Trustees of Newark Beth Israel Hospital, the Daughters of Israel Home for the Aged and the Northfield YM-YWHA and was associate editor of the New Jersey Law Journal from 1961 to 1998.He was also honored by Integrity House of Newark.

Mr. Cummis was one of the original attorneys who worked to bring gambling to Atlantic City. He and partner Arthur Goldberg rescued Bally's from bankruptcy and founded Park Place Entertainment.

He was admitted to the bars of the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He was a member of the bar associations of Essex County, New Jersey, and the American Bar Association. In addition, Mr. Cummis was a member of the American Bar Foundation, the American Law Institute, and a Trustee of the American Judicature Society.

Mr. Cummis was the recipient of the First Annual Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee; the Outstanding Alumnus Award, Tulane University, College of Arts and Sciences, 1992; and the First Annual Distinguished Citizen Award, New Jersey Medical School, 2002.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Denburg Cummis; his brother, State Superior Court Judge Philip Cummis; four daughters, and three grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Newark Museum or Integrity House of Newark.