Managing partner of White & Williams, 59, died in sleep at vacation home over weekend

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When he took the helm at White & Williams in 2010, managing partner Guy Cellucci stepped in for an older partner who was required under the Philadelphia-based law firm’s partnership agreement to retire from management at age 64.

Then 56 years old, Cellucci, who had been at the firm for his entire legal career and chair of its litigation department for over a decade, seemed to be on course for many more years of leadership there.

But Cellucci, 59, who also served as chairman of the 230-attorney firm, died unexpectedly Friday. The Inquirer says he died in his sleep at a vacation home in Avalon, N.J. The exact cause of his death is unknown at this time.

Accolades have poured in since then for the Georgetown University law grad, who is remembered as a unassuming man who listened well and made time to help others.

“He did not force his ideas on others, but listened to what they had to say and formulated a plan of action after forging consensus in a way that only a great leader can do,” partner Patricia Santelle, who chairs the commercial litigation department, said in a law firm press release.

“He was always willing to discuss anything that was on someone’s mind, personal or professional; he always made time,” said partner Michael Olsan, who chairs the reinsurance practice group. “He was like a big brother to me.”

Both the Boston and New York offices of the firm doubled in size under Celllucci’s leadership, and he was instrumental in obtaining a number of important coverage rulings for the insurance companies he represented, the firm said.

Survivors include Cellucci’s wife of 31 years, Bernadette, two sons, a daughter, his parents and three siblings. Information about services, which will be held Thursday and Friday, is provided by the Inquirer.

The law firm’s executive committee met Saturday. But it does not plan to discuss matters related to Cellucci’s death until after his funeral, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

Under the firm’s partnership agreement, executive director Ken Gibb will be in charge administratively until a new chairman is elected. “Guy was an outstanding leader and has left the firm in good working order,” Gibb said. “We will continue with the leadership that Guy put in place and discuss next steps in the near future.”

Prior coverage: “Incoming White & Williams Chair Is a ‘Lifer’ Who Plans to Work on Firm ‘PR Issue’”

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