WRITTEN BY AL NICORA
A second generation Italian-American, Al was born and raised in the Temescal area of Oakland. He grew up surrounded by his Italian family, all living within a few blocks of his home. As a child, he enjoyed helping his Nonno till the garden, which fed the entire neighborhood and he raised rabbits. It was not until Al was much older that he found out his pet rabbits were not escaping but rather the main course at Sunday dinner! He was fortunate to be cherished by both his Nonni’s and being the first-born grandson, they treated him like royalty, even peeling his grapes and seeding his watermelon. Both Nonni’s were wonderful cooks and some of Al’s fondest memories are of watching them and his Zias (aunts) rolling fresh pasta in the basement. Once at a friend’s house the mother served Chef Boyardee ravioli from a can and he politely refused to eat it.
Following middle school, Al was accepted as a boarder at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose where the Jesuits cultivated in him a life-long commitment of service to others. He was a four-year letterman in cross country and track, served as student body president his senior year and graduated with the school’s highest honor, The Cardinal Bellarmine Award.
Stanford University then welcomed him where he met the love of his life, Melanie. Her Hungarian roots didn’t stop his grandmothers from teaching her the key to Al’s heart & happiness...Italian cooking.
While juggling Stanford studies Al somehow managed to convince his buddies that buying a racehorse was a worthwhile investment. Shortly thereafter the “Seven Card Studs” became a reality along with their racehorse, “Our Tuition”. Although not yielding those promised millions, they all had a hell of a ride.
Following graduation in 1977 with a BS in Biology, Al attended UC Hastings College of Law. Melanie’s Italian cooking continued to improve and she and Al tied the knot in 1979. In 1980, much to the shock of his roommates, Al passed the BAR exam on his first try. He hung his first private shingle in Albany, California, and soon after was courted by the law firm of Boornazian, Jensen & Garth. From there he went to work as Assistant General Counsel for the Pacific Union Company in San Francisco. After the birth of his second daughter in 1984, Al moved the family to the Monterey Bay and started the law practice of Gilles & Nicora. The firm quickly expanded to Gilles, Nicora, Minor and Sullivan. In 1996, the Nicora Law Offices resurfaced and, followed by several transitions, is located at its permanent home on Carmel Rancho Boulevard in Carmel. In 2018, after practicing for three years at a Bay Area law firm, his daughter, Jacqueline “Jackie”, was proudly welcomed as an Associate in her father’s firm.
Al is also privileged to serve as a California Probate Referee. These judicial officers are appointed by the Superior Court to appraise decedent’s assets in probate cases. Appointed in 1975, by then State Controller, Ken Cory, he was the youngest appointee in the history of the state and is one of the longest serving to date. Originally serving in Alameda County, he was reappointed to Monterey County in 1991. He is most proud that his position allows him to help heirs navigate the complicated probate process which can be especially difficult after the loss of a loved one. He has served two terms as President of the Probate Referees Association and is the current editor of the Association Blue Book and the California Probate Referees Procedures Guide.
Al’s commitment of giving back to others and the community has always been at the forefront of his endeavors both inside and outside of work. He was a long time member of the Albany Rotary Club, serving as President and then District Representative, and was one of the club’s first Paul Harris Fellows. For almost 40 years he has headed the Albany Rotary Villa Scholarship awarding nearly $100,000 to high school seniors who have overcome adversities yet managed to do well in school.
One of his greatest joys was serving on the Board of Directors and as President of Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey for more than a decade. During his tenure the charity was able to cement their financial footing and introduce several new programs to benefit those in need. Al has also served as a board member of Legal Services for Seniors and Montage Health CHI, was an executive committee member of the Monterey County BAR Association and was player hospitality co-chair of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for ten years. He is also a member of the Colombo Club in Oakland where his father served as president. Al is proud that his brother, Nick, is now serving in that role.
In addition, Al is a licensed real estate broker and taught real estate courses at Merritt College in Oakland for three years, traveling from Monterey to Oakland and back once a week during that time.
Al and Melanie have been blessed with four daughters; Stephanie, Catherine, Jacqueline and Maria. Al was never too busy for his girls and was actively involved in their school and social lives. He was their biggest fan at dance recitals, plays, soccer games, equestrian events, track meets and softball games. He is now the proud grandparent of Penelope Midnight and Madison Margaret. Another grand girl is expected in February. Yes, all GIRLS.
A devout Catholic, Al is very active in his parish community, the Carmel Mission. At Sunday masses, you may find him ushering or serving as a lector. He is also chairman of the Mission Finance Council, sits on the Carmel Mission Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He served on the School Board at Junipero Serra School for several years and was President of the Parent’s Club with Melanie. When it was decided the school needed a new gym, Al spearheaded the fundraising and permit efforts which culminated in the construction of The Murphy Center.
Al has completed 30 marathons and has been on numerous SCUBA diving trips to such unique places as Palou, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Cuba, but his travels to Italy are among his favorites. He’s held his Oakland Athletics season tickets for over 40 years and anyone who knows him is well aware of his long suffering avid loyalty to the A’s. He and Melanie just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary and yes, she is an A’s fan.
Al loves being Italian. His zest for all that is Italiano is infectious and he shouts to anyone who will listen (or not) that everything Italian is simply the BEST!
He is most humbled by this honor and would like to deeply thank the committee for this recognition.