Stephen E. Ronai

Stephen E. Ronai, 83 of North Haven, passed away on April 30, 2020 after a long illness.  Steve was a resident of North Haven since 1985 with his wife, the noted artist, Natalie Melbardis Ronai, whom he married in 1974 and to whom he had been devoted throughout their long married life together.  At the time of his death Steve’s professional career as a recognized health care lawyer and health care regulatory specialist had evolved into an advisory counsel relationship with Murtha Cullina LLP, a regional law firm where Steve served as a partner and where for twenty years he provided leadership as Chairman of the Health Care Department and as a mentor to many of the Health Care lawyers that served provider clients through the firm.  Steve was born in Szikso, Hungary in 1936, and he and his late mother, Ilona, emigrated to the United States in 1941 to build upon Steve’s father Joseph’s courageous and life-saving decision in 1939 to escape the Hungarian support of the Nazi’s Holocaust to enable his family to draw upon America’s freedom as the foundation for their new life together.  Steve adhered faithfully to his parents’ patriotism and adopted their faith that opportunities in a free America to obtain a good education could be the pathway to the realization of the American dream.  Steve’s admission to the Bronx High School of Science, to Columbia College of Columbia University, and to the Yale Law School were instrumental steps that exhibited the benefits of Steve’s parents’ encouragement and support for his educational achievements.Steve’s education led to a legal career that reflected his recognition as a nationally recognized expert in a broad range of Health Care Industry provider legal issues.  Murtha Cullina’s large complement of health care clients came to rely on Steve’s knowledge, experience and practical approach to Hospital, Nursing Home and Physician Organization regulatory problems that arose out of provider restrictive encounters with State and Federal enforcement authorities.  Steve’s experience and expertise led to his annual listing  since 1992 in the Best Lawyers in America publication.  His reputation for thoughtful analysis and careful advice led to his election and appointment to numerous leadership positions in Health Care provider organizations and Health Care educational institutions, i.e. as a Fellow of the American Health Lawyers Association, a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Hospital Association, as General Counsel to the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, Inc (the State’s Nursing Home membership Association) and he also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Quinnipiac University School of Law where he regularly taught a course in The Regulation of the Health Care Industry. Steve’s dedication to his profession and to the Murtha Cullina LLP law firm did not diminish Steve’s devotion to his wife Natalie Melbardis, whose artistic talent and her love of her home and her beautiful garden provided him with the bucolic atmosphere that he treasured and appreciated and for which he was always grateful.  In addition to Natalie, Steve is survived by his sister, Amy Kuperblum (Joseph), his niece Erika of Ardsley, New York and by his two sons Peter J. Ronai (Margot Leoni) of Milford, CT and James G. Ronai (Susan Sloan) of Orange, CT and his three grandchildren Matthew James, Brian John and Lauren Elizabeth.   In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Bronx High School of Science Alumni Association.

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  1. Nan Birdwhistell said,

    05.02.20 at 10:52 am

    Steve was an amazing lawyer. As an early mentee of his, I value his generous sharing of his skills and knowledge. And no one was a greater master than Steve at making presentations to potential clients that would bowl them over and win him the job. In addition to Steve’s love for his family, he really loved his dogs, many of whom were named after flowers.

  2. Mary Lou & Edward Winnick said,

    05.02.20 at 12:51 pm

    We remember Steve as a fine attorney, devoted to family and community. Our sympathy to Natalie.

  3. Susan Kent Cakars said,

    05.02.20 at 5:09 pm

    Related through a couple of marriages, Stephen was a vital part of many of our family holidays. He was particularly appreciated for his caroling prowess—his great voice and his knowledge of all the verses, which, in spite of being Jewish, he’d had to learn for many school pageants. He was also always kind, friendly, smart, engaging—always so nice to be around. Years ago now, he had a severe stroke from which, with time, he fully recovered. A second stroke, years later, left him in a nursing home. We’ve missed him at our family gatherings since then. And we will always miss him and remember him very fondly.

  4. Bernie Ferris said,

    05.03.20 at 8:02 am

    Jim- you have my sincere sympathy and I will keep your Mom and your Family in my thoughts and prayers

  5. joe derosa said,

    05.03.20 at 1:45 pm

    To the Steve E Ronai family, I always thought of Steve as a friend and as an Attorney. Its been a few years since my last conversation with him, but I never forgot our friendship, maybe it was that we both are ex New Yorkers.
    I will remember him in my prayers.
    to Peter Ronai my daughter Lia send her best to you and family.
    God bless you all,
    joe derosa

  6. Eleanor Nelson said,

    05.03.20 at 8:49 pm

    It was my honor to work as Steve’s assistant for more than 30 years. I learned so much through my years of working closely with him. Following his retirement, I remained close to him and Natalie and they are like family to me. He will be greatly missed by so many.

  7. Gia schiopppo Calistro said,

    05.04.20 at 8:31 am

    Jim and family,
    So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Sincerely, Gia

  8. Craig Stockel said,

    05.04.20 at 4:24 pm

    Jim and family, Very sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family during this most difficult time. Sincerely, Craig

  9. Bob Adnopoz said,

    05.05.20 at 12:18 pm

    Our most sincere condolences.We remember Steve as a long time friend and neighbor.Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family at this sad time.

    Jean & Bob Adnopoz

  10. Janis Chakars said,

    05.05.20 at 3:51 pm

    He was someone to admire. I will miss him.

    Janis Chakars

  11. Jon Einhorn said,

    05.06.20 at 2:17 pm

    I always admired Steve – he was a true gentleman and one of the giants of the New Haven Bar. I’m sorry for your loss, Natalie: he’ll be missed.

    jon einhorn.

  12. Paul Knag said,

    05.06.20 at 8:30 pm

    I morn the loss of my friend Steve. He was a visionary who established a great health care practice for Murtha Cullina. For many years he was a competitor until I was able to join him at Murtha.
    He will be missed.

  13. Paul McCary said,

    05.07.20 at 7:25 am

    I had the joy of working as Steve’s associate during the mid-1980s soon after his arrival at Murtha. His passion for the law and his enthusiasm for his clients was instructive and contagious. When a new matter called for a burst of work, Steve exhorted me and others assigned to him to respond with the speed and intensity of answering a fire alarm. He taught me a great deal about nursing home certificates of need and a great deal more about how to attract and capably serve clients. He will be missed and remembered.

  14. Tanya DeMattia said,

    05.07.20 at 9:28 am

    Steve gave me my start in health care law, and I will always be grateful for the many things he taught. I was saddened to learn of his passing. May his memory be eternal.

  15. Kari Olson said,

    05.07.20 at 10:19 am

    Steve was a significant mentor to so many associates at Murtha, not just in the health care realm, but also, more generally as a lawyer who epitomized the meaning of exemplary client service. He was so generous with his experiential wisdom and advice. On a personal level, Steve and I shared a deep affection for our dogs and we had long discussions about the best ways to raise and train them and the sheer joy of having them in our lives. He will be missed by all of us at Murtha who knew him and had the pleasure of working with him.
    To Steve’s family: I am sincerely sorry for your loss.

  16. Laura Rosenberg Berman said,

    05.07.20 at 9:47 pm

    I was Steve’s assistant in the 1970’s when he practiced in Milford, around the time that he began to specialize in health care law. He was a brilliant attorney, an encouraging mentor and a kind friend, often inviting me to join him and Natalie at their home for holiday meals. He had an exuberant personality that left an indelible impression on everyone he met. I remember when Steve and Natalie married. Natalie, you turned his world around from the moment you met. It brings a smile to my face to also remember that he frequently tried to fix me up with his tenants. Steve will always hold a special spot in my heart.

  17. Andrew Mezey said,

    05.10.20 at 10:13 am

    To the family of Stephen Ronai, Steve and I were childhood friends but lost touch when we went our separate ways after the Bronx High School of Science. Joe Ronai and my father were partners in the restaurant business in the 1940s. Steve and I were bunk mates along with George Reich in summer camp together in 1946- 3 boys all born in Hungary whose families emigrated to the US to escape the Nazis- and who grew up to establish wonderful careers and families in their adopted country. My deepest sentiments to the Ronai family.

  18. Joy Ford said,

    05.10.20 at 4:53 pm

    My heart goes out to Natalie and her family for their loss. Steve will be sorely missed.

  19. Agnes Frank said,

    05.11.20 at 2:39 pm

    With deepest sympathy to Natalie and to all his loved ones.

  20. The Carrington Family said,

    05.13.20 at 9:02 am

    Jim, Sue & Family,

    We are so saddened to hear of your father’s (grandfather’s) passing. He sounded like he lived a life well lived. He made many contributions to the health industry and made the most of his opportunities in the United States. I am sure he was proud of you all following in his footsteps. May memories of him comfort you at this difficult time. Our deepest sympathy to you, your extended family, and especially your mother. We are sending you strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.


    Jeff, Melissa & Family