WEST PITTSTON — Borough Mayor Tony Denisco passed away Tuesday due to health complications.
He was 73.
The lifelong West Pittston resident was appointed mayor by the borough council in 2011 after previous mayor, Bill Goldsworthy, resigned his position.
Council President Brian Thornton, who knew Denisco for over 40 years, said he was approached by Denisco about appointing him as mayor.
“He asked if we could consider him,” Thornton said. “I asked him if he really wanted to be mayor and (he) chuckled and said, ‘Yes I do. I grew up in this town. I love this town and I want to help anyway I can.’”
Only a few months into Denisco’s term, the borough was devastated by the flood of 2011 in which the Susquehanna River crested at over 42 feet.
Thornton commended Denisco’s handling of the situation.
“It was a tremendously stressful situation and he did a fabulous job, in my opinion, both during the flood itself and the years following,” Thornton said. “Most people don’t realize that, after a disaster like that, how difficult and tiring it is dealing with federal and state agencies. He worked tirelessly and endlessly to get our town help from anywhere he could. He did a great job because we received a lot of help from federal and state places receiving grants.”
Denisco’s younger sister, Pauline Albano, was not surprised at all by how her brother handled the flood, saying he always kept West Pittston close to his heart.
“He lived 73 years in West Pittston and he was all about the town,” she said. “After family it was all about West Pittston. Family first, West Pittston second.”
Since the flood, the borough has acquired various grants for streetscape and infrastructure projects and is a member of the North East Land Bank Authority, which purchases blighted properties to restore or demolish.
Thornton said Denisco and his willingness to help the community in any way he could made him loved by all.
“He was liked by all of us, and I don’t think there was anyone on council who didn’t like him,” Thornton said. “He was loved, appreciated and he should be commended for his many, many years of devoted dedication to West Pittston Borough.”
One council member who was close to Denisco was Pauline’s husband Pete Albano, Denisco’s brother-in-law.
“Tony always considered himself not to be a politician,” said Pete. “The family joke was Tony ‘Not a Politician’ Denisco. I have him to thank, and they all took me into the family.”
According to state law, because of Denisco’s passing, the current council president, Thornton, will serve as acting mayor until a new one is appointed.
The state code also states that the council has 30 days from the time of Denisco’s seat becoming vacant to appoint a new mayor, but Thornton believes that will be done at the next public meeting on May 3.
The next mayor will fill out the remainder of Denisco’s term, which expires at the end of December 2017.
Denisco graduated from West Pittston High School in 1961 and worked for Medico Industries in Wilkes-Barre for 47 years.
Other hats he wore in West Pittston included being a member of the Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company, an auxiliary police officer, a constable and the director of the borough emergency management agency.
Denisco’s absence not only leaves a hole in the hearts of West Pittston residents, but also in the hearts of Denisco’s family members which includes his wife of 51 years Carmella, son Tony Denisco Jr., daughter Lori Capozucca, brother Sam Denisco, and sisters Mariel Bufano, Sue Mullin and Pauline as well as four grandchildren.
“There is a huge void in our lives that will be very hard to fill,” said Pauline, “He was such a caring individual and he never had a bad word about anybody.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher