First Posted: 3/15/2013
It was a community-wide “thank you.”
Charles Adonizio III and Dr. Lewis Druffner, Jr. were honored Tuesday night by the Sunday Dispatch and members of the Greater Pittston community.
Adonizo, 59, the immediate past president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, was honored as Greater Pittston’s Person of the Year for his work in bringing the Hometown Heroes Memorial from idea to reality.
Druffner, 79, a retired physician, was presented the Joseph A. Saporito Sr. Lifetime of Service Award for his volunteer work at the Care and Concern Clinic and for decades of work as a family doctor in Avoca.
The Hometown Heroes Memorial honors soldiers and police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and another who was severely wounded, from the Greater Pittston area in the past decade.
The memorial was officially dedicated on July 1, 2012, to U.S. Army Cpl. Dale Justin Kridlo, 33, who was killed in action Nov. 7, 2010 in Afghanistan; U.S. Navy and PA Army National Guard Lt. Col Richard Joseph Berrettini, 52, who died Jan. 11, 2008, as a result of injuries sustained in Afghanistan; Pennsylvania State Trooper Joshua Daniel Miller, 34, who was killed June 7, 2009, in Monroe County; Virginia Beach Police Department Officer Rodney F. Pocceschi, 33, was killed on June 23, 2003, in Virginia Beach, Va.; and Pennsylvania Army National Guard First Lt. Jeffrey Frank DePrimo, 33, who was killed May 20, 2008, in Afghanistan.
living memorial on the side yard was also dedicated to Capt. T.J. Hromisin, who was critically injured in Iraq.
Hromisin and his family were on hand at the event to show their support for what Adonizio was able to accomplish.
“The memorial wouldn’t be there without Charlie Adonizio,” said Mary Ellen Hromosin, mother of Capt. Hromisin. “It was very unselfish of him to think of all the boys that sacrificed everything for the United States. It’s a well deserved honor.”
Capt. Hromisin echoed his mother’s setiments.
“I think it’s really fitting,” Capt. Hromisin said. “He really deserves the honor.”
Sunday Dispatch Editor Ed Ackerman acted as host. A benediction was given by Monsignor John Bendik, pastor of the St. John the Evangelist Parish Community, Pittston, and a closing prayer was offered by the Rev. Phil Sladicka, pastor of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles parish, Avoca.
Ackerman introduced Adonizio.
“Those who were fortunate enough to be at that (Hometown Heroes Memorial) dedication ceremony on July 1, it was one of the most spectacular events I could imagine in the history of Pittston,” Ackerman said. “I was so glad that Charlie received so many nominations because it’s so well deserved.”
Before accepting the award, Adonizio praised Chamber Executive Vice President Rosemary Dessoye as the “unsung hero” and the staff of the chamber who did the “heavy lifting.”
“I wanted Rosemary to share this award with me, but she turned me down,” Adonizio said. “I thought it was too important for the nemorial not to accept this award today, so I do share it with her. She was always completely supportive of the project and so helpful.”
Adonizio said he wanted the memorial to be a fitting tribute to “the brave people from our area who became victims while serving our country and protecting us from harm.”
He listed each fallen serviceman and requested a moment of silence.
“In six short months from the planning to reality, it is an everlasting testament to the brave men who were lost and injured in the line of duty,” he said. “And to the community who will never forget what they did for us.”
Adonizio said he was overwhelmed at the community support for the project.
“I accept this award with gratitude and humility,” he said. “Not for myself, but for our hometown heroes and for all of you, who every day go about your daily activities to make this community what it is.”
He noted Greater Pittston’s underdog spirit of perseverance and pride. “We’ll never forget the sacrifices made by our servicemen and our coal mining ancestors,” Adonizio said.
Attorney Joseph F. Saporito Jr. presented the award named for his father to Druffner.
Saporito told the story of a young couple coming to see his father who were in the process of being evicted from their home.
“They were renting and they couldn’t afford to continue paying their rent,” he said. “They came to my father for some assistance.”
When Saporito Sr. asked the landlord to give them some more time, he declined.
“About a week later, my dad came into my office and said to me, ‘I think I found a way to help these people. I talked to the landlord and he agreed to sell me the house.’”
“My dad knew the law would not be on their side, so he made it easy for them in another way,” Saporito said.
It’s that kind of kindness that’s a hallmark of the Greater Pittston area, he said.
“Kindness like the kindness of this recipient, Dr. Druffner.”
“He’s a man of faith,” Saporito said. “He’s a man who gives back to the community. And we’re honored that his name is now associated with the Saporito Award.”
Druffner humbly accepted the award.
“I appreciate all the people who helped me along the way,” he said. “Friends, family, staff in Scranton and Pittston and the staff I used to have in my office. Thank you very much.”
He also thanked children and wife, Catherine. “She held it all together and kept the meals warm. That’s an art in itself.”
Adonizio and Druffner were presented several accolades from area lawmakers, including proclamations from U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, who had them written into the U.S. Congressional Record, State Sen. John Yudichak and State Rep. Mike Carroll, who attended the event.
Carroll talked about being treated by Druffner as a boy.
“We’ve all heard the phrase, you need something like you need a hole in the head,” Carroll said. “Well, I can tell you I needed Dr. Druffner because I had a hole in my head as a young man.”
Anne Wywoda, who has known Druffner for 43 years, came from Milford, Conn., to see him honored. She worked for him for 10 of those years.
“My youngest son was the last baby he delivered,” she said. “He’s the best. He was a good doctor and a good friend and we were lucky to work for him.”
Past recipients of the Greater Pittston Person of the Year beginning with the year 2000 are: Mike Lombardo, Lori Nocito, Frank Bartoli, Our Fighting Men and Women, Ron D’Eliseo, Father Paul McDonnell, the Joyces, William, John, Joseph and David Joyce; Monsignor John Bendik, Peggy Burke, Trooper Joshua Miller, Richie Kossuth and Our Flooded Neighbors.
The Lifetime of Service Award was initiated by the Sunday Dispatch in 2001 and Atty. Joseph Saporito Sr. was honored posthumously. The next year his family came forward to sponsor future awards and it became known as the Joseph Saporito Lifetime of Service Award. The recipients of the Saporito Award beginning in 2002 were: Tom “Kubby” Kobeski, Charles “Cugsy” Adonizio, Betty Miller, Warren Pollard, Janet Delaney, Joseph Tavaglione, James Steer, Maria Caporella-Montante, Alan and Ann Rose and Fred DeSanto.