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Amalia Toro remembers when the honorable thing to do, while running as a candidate in a class election, would be to vote for the “other guy.” Even up until the very last minute, Toro, who was running for an officer’s position at Yale Law School in 1944, was planning on voting for the other guy — until someone urged her to vote for herself. “He told me, at this level, you vote for yourself, not your classmate,” Toro recalled. “And do you know what? I won by one vote. Mine.” Now, 57 years later, Toro speaks fondly of her days as a young law student at Yale and the fact that she became the school’s first female class officer by winning the election as secretary. “Back in those days, the professor would look [me] right in the eyes and address the class as gentlemen,” Toro said. In fact, the now 80-year-old Hartford, Conn., solo chuckles when she thinks of the blotter paper she was sent from a local barber shop trying to solicit law students at the school by promoting men’s hairstyles. Looking back on her days as a young law student, Toro didn’t view the minority of woman classmates as unique, remarking rather on the unusualness of a father choosing to prod his oldest daughter toward a career in law. “The greatest blessing in my life were my parents,” said Toro, who was once married and has no children. “My father sent me to Yale … . That was very unusual for fathers in my generation.” If the decision were up to Toro, she might have gone on to play ball for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was formed in 1943 to keep the spirit of the sport alive as members of the men’s professional teams left for the war. A first baseman who played softball at Hartford’s Weaver High School, Toro also played forward and was the captain of the school’s basketball team. In addition, she played soccer. As a political science undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, Toro said she continued playing many sports, but unfortunately, women’s sports back then were only played on an intramural basis. “I was good in athletics,” Toro said with a spirit of confidence. “[Today] I am somewhere between being resentful and proud of the UConn women. Women in my generation didn’t have the opportunities women today have.” Her Yale background paid off, she said, when, after she graduated from the prestigious law school, she landed a job as an associate at Wiggins & Dana, in New Haven, Conn., working on tort cases. In 1946, Toro sought out the position as an elections attorney for the state, a position from which she would soon form a close friendship with one of her most admired peers — Ella Grasso, who was then Connecticut’s secretary of state. Toro said Grasso’s fall to cancer in 1981, after becoming the state’s first female governor, “was a heartache.” Sitting in a leather easy chair in her office on Hartford’s Pearl Street, with a black and white photograph of Grasso signed, “Grow old along with me,” on a mantle above her, Toro spoke warmly of her friend. “She would have been our first woman president,” Toro said. “There is no doubt in my mind.” With Grasso’s help, Toro drafted elections bills in addition to her other duties as the state’s chief elections attorney, a position she held for 29 years. Her many accomplishments include being named Woman of the Year in 1969 by the Greater Hartford Business and Professional Women’s Club and serving 20 years as a member, including a stint as vice-chair, on the State Employees Retirement Commission. Toro, a past member of committees too numerous to name, has earned many awards from organizations such as the Connecticut Bar Association. She urged law students today to become involved with their communities. “The practice of the law is not only about the money you make,” Toro said. “Help the people you care about.” Surrounded by memories of earlier times, through the many photographs and paintings in her office, including a print of Winslow Homer’s “Jurors Listening to Counsel,” Toro still comes to work daily to keep her practice going. She also serves as an alternate public member of the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration, while working mostly on contracts for wills and estates in her general practice. “I really enjoy what I am doing,” Toro said.

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