Not only did the late Joe DiGenova serve his country during the Vietnam War, but he also served his local community as well as a member of the Delaware City Council.
Before passing away at the age of 71 in March 2017, DiGenova left a lasting impact on the city as its longest-serving council member, with 25 combined years of service. His dedication to the city and love for community service earned him, posthumously, the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce’s Wayne Hilborn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Formerly the Honor Citizen Award, Delaware business owner Jack Hilborn said the name of the award was changed to honor his late father, Wayne, after he passed away in 1994.
“He was affectionately known by many as ‘Mr. Delaware,’ and for over 50 years, he gave back in so many ways to this community and Ohio Wesleyan University,” Hilborn said of his late father.
As for the Wayne Hilborn Lifetime Achievement Award, Hilborn said it’s awarded to individuals who have dedicated their lives to community service, at least 10 years or more, and it’s only awarded when the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors feels there is someone deserving of the honor.
“I think you could make a strong argument that it’s the most coveted award given in the Delaware community,” Hilborn said.
During the chamber’s annual dinner and awards ceremony held Feb. 5, Hilborn said he was honored to present the award to DiGenova’s family.
“Joe truly loved this city. He always did his homework and championed what he believed was right for the city of Delaware,” Hilborn said. “He leaves a solid legacy of giving back and serving one’s community. Joe was a man of quiet dignity who touched the lives of many in a very positive way.”
Hilborn added, “(Joe) epitomized the citizen, public servant concept and was a dedicated member of Delaware City Council. He was a good listener and interacted with friends and constituents well. During his tenure on city council, Joe played a key role in many significant projects in our city, such as updating of our city water and sewer plants, the airport expansion and relocation, the building of our city justice center, along with the renovation of city hall.”
DiGenova’s son, Tim, accepted the award on behalf of his late father, who he remarked “effortlessly gave of himself to the community that he served. Other than the love of his life, my mother, my father’s love was the city of Delaware and the people that lived in it.”
Case in point, Tim DiGenova said, his father continued to serve his community up until his death even when “his health was supposed to be his top priority.”
He added his father always sought “to do the best to provide for our family,” and his father “lived and breathed Delaware.”
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.