"Joe's accomplishments in life are those to which many strive by few achieve," reads the plaque in the Luzerne County Law Library in memory of Atty. Joseph Saporito, Sr. who passed away in 2001.
"However," the plaque continues, "his greatness, and perhaps most memorable quality was his genuine sense of kindness. He was a man of tremendous generosity and honor who never forgot from where he came."
This man of "tremendous generosity and honor" – Atty. Joseph Saporito Sr. – was honored posthumously in 2002 as the recipient of the first Sunday Dispatch Greater Pittston Lifetime of Service Award. The presentation took place at the Dispatch Person of the Year reception at St. Anthony's Center in Exeter. The award was not only presented in Saporito's memory, but was also named after him. Future recipients have received the Atty. Joseph Saporito Sr. Greater Pittston Lifetime of Service Award.
The first award was presented by Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo, its co-sponsor along with the Dispatch. It was accepted by Saporito's widow, Yolanda "Dolly" Saporito, who has since passed, and his sons, Carlo Saporito and Atty. Joseph Saporito Jr.
"My dad's life was nothing but service," said Joseph Jr. at the time. "Although it was not an elected office, he saw his profession as an attorney as one of public service. Our home telephone number was always published in the phone book and he'd take every call, no matter what time it came."
"And there's no way of telling how much legal service he did without charge," added Carlo. "He was very concerned about the underprivileged. We'll always remember the one client, an elderly Italian woman, whom he went to see at her home and communicated with in Italian. When she asked his fee, he said, ‘You remind me so much of my mother, how can I charge you?' Actually, I never remember him asking anyone for money."
Both sons said that, to their father, service began with service to God.
"My dad would always say he felt best when he was walking out of church after attending Mass," Carlo said. "And both Joe and I have memories of him walking in the hallway at night saying the Rosary. He said it every day and when he was in the hospital the rosary had to be right by his bed."
Saporito continued to serve his clients right up to his death, at age 82. "The day before he went to the hospital," Carlo said, "he called me into our law library. ‘You know that case everyone gave up on?' he said. ‘Well, I found an answer for it.' "
"He never treated me any different than a son," said Atty. Sam Falcone Jr., a partner in the Saporito Law Firm. "I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity, honor and benefit of working with him."
A U.S. Navy officer in World War II and the youngest mayor of Pittston when elected in 1953, Saporito is credited with initiating the first redevelopment of the city he loved so much.
"My father was very modest," Joseph Jr. added. "He always said, ‘Don't tell anyone what you have accomplished. What you have accomplished will speak louder than your words.' "
The memory of Atty. Joseph Saporito Sr. lives on in the award bearing his name and the spirit of Atty. Joseph Saporito Sr. lives on in the recipients of the Lifetime of Service Award.