Delaware lost a true advocate this week with the death of City Councilman Joe DiGenova. Having served a quarter-century, DiGenova, 71, resigned just six days prior to his passing on Sunday, citing health issues.
To say he was the epitome of public service would be an understatement. He had the most combined years on Council as he served on and off again since 1986. He had represented Delaware’s 3rd Ward for more than a decade.
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle perhaps summed up many residents’ feelings: “Joe DiGenova committed a quarter century of his life to a city that he loved and residents that he cared deeply about.” Riggle added, “There are not enough flags in Delaware to lower to give Joe DiGenova the respect he deserves.”
But DiGenova was much more than a city councilman. He also had a heart for young people. He served on six different city boards and was Council’s liaison to the municipal court and city schools. Over a span of two and a half decades, DiGenova worked with four city managers, eight mayors and 24 council members — and countless city residents.
As a volunteer with the Delaware City Schools he helped create the city’s Youth Government program, which introduced high school students to government. He is one of the few inductees of Delaware City Schools Hall of Fame who was not a Hayes High School alumni.
His roots in Delaware ran deep, as did his civic pride. We believe that DiGenova truly left this community in better shape than he found it.
He served his country proudly for four years during the Vietnam War before coming home to work in business and serve this city’s residents on council. Fittingly, he was laid to rest Friday morning in Oak Grove Cemetery with full military honors conducted by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1095.
DiGenova had battled illness over the past few months, but was determined to keep working tirelessly for the causes in which he believed. He simply wanted Delaware to be the best city that it could be. For that he will be remembered fondly for years to come.