I received an e-mail from a reader (and I hope a friend) who suggested that “Biographical Timeline” on Ray Gricar. I thought it sounded like a good idea and decided to try. I will ask that you do not use the first or maiden names of the second Mrs. Gricar, if you wish to comment. Her name has not been printed in the Centre Daily Times.
http://tiny.cc/Renner received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, and his law degree from Case Western Reserve in 1970 http://tiny.cc/Background159 . Again from the Renner article, he met his first wife Barbara Gray while an undergraduate. He became interested in the law after completing an internship in a district attorney’s office; he was originally interested in Russian history. They married sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. They would divorce in 1990, though from what I’ve gathered it was amicable divorce. Barbara continued to live, and work, in the area afterward.
He worked for 12 years as a prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located. He adopted Lara in the late 1970’s. In 1980, Mrs. Gricar took an administrative position at Penn State; the family moved to State College. According to the Renner article, Ray Gricar was not planning to practice law but become a stay at home father to Lara. The Centre County District Attorney’s office approached him about becoming an assistant; the then District Attorney was David E. Grine, now the President Judge1. He took the post.
In 1985 he was first elected to the post of District Attorney. His opponent was Amos Goodall, the same Amos Goodall that serves as the Gricar family attorney. Mr. Gricar barely won the election, by about 600 votes. He was reelected in 1989, 1993, and 1997, 2001. After 1985, his margin of victory increased and he was unopposed in several races.
One point of contention in the elections of 1989 and 1993 was Mr. Gricar’s desire to make the position full time. http://tiny.cc/nCU5D One of his opponents in this was Vickie Wedler, then a county commissioner, and the person who spoke briefly to him and Ms. Fornicola in Tallyrand Park in the late afternoon of 4/14/05. The office became a full time position in 1996.
In 2004, a year prior to then of his term, Mr. Gricar not only announced his retirement from office but from the law. He stated that he wouldn’t join a firm or run for public office. http://tiny.cc/retirement373 While I initially found it strange, friends did not find it unusual. Some even joked that maybe he’d go over to “the Dark Side,” and become a defense attorney; he did not want to continue practicing law, even civil law. He was apparently happy with the decision.
In 1996, Mr. Gricar’s brother, Roy Gricar committed suicide. Later that year, he married his second wife, according to the Renner article. I have found out that they were DINK’s, Double Income No Kids. They were divorced around 2000. From reading between the lines from people close to Mr. Gricar, this divorce was less friendly. The second former Mrs. Gricar indicated that she had no contact with Mr. Gricar since the divorce. She had moved from the area at about that time.
In either 2002 or 2003, Mr. Gricar moved in with Patty Fornicola, who was a Witness/Victims Advocate with the District Attorney’s Office2. The house had been Ms. Fornicola’s childhood home.
He had changed her position in a clerk in the office in January of 2005, according to Ms. Arnold. http://tiny.cc/b6pnb She had planned to retire with Mr. Gricar at the end of 2005.
On 4/15/05. Mr. Gricar was reported missing.
1Mr. Renner gets some of the dates wrong in his article, which is otherwise good. Judge Grine, for example, was first elected judge in 1981, according to his biography in the Pennsylvania Manual. He therefore could not have appointed Mr. Gricar as an ADA in 1985. Mr. Gricar could not have moved to State College in 1985 and been elected District Attorney the same year because state law requires the District Attorney to be a resident of the county for one year prior to taking office.
2Ms. Fornicola had been a probation officer prior to her becoming a Witness/Victims Advocate. Because there would be interconnection between the county probation office and the DA’s Office, it is probable that Mr. Gricar and Ms. Fornicola knew each other for a longer period of time, at least casually. Likewise the Fornicola name is familiar one in both Bellefonte and Centre County government circles. Ms. Fornicola’s uncle, the late Gino Fornicola (the only member of the family I’ve ever met or spoken to), a prominent businessman, served as Mayor of Bellefonte (1982-6) and was elected as County Treasurer in 1985, the same year Mr. Gricar was first elected District Attorney. He was succeeded by his son, Richard Fornicola, the current County Treasurer.