Yorkville loses special mayor, special man

IT WAS just a week ago that I was paying homage to my former co-worker and close friend of 32 years Rich Gibson. “Hoot” passed away July 3 after losing his 10-month battle with lymphoma.

The days since his passing have reinforced my belief that Hoot was as well-liked and respected as anyone in our business. The Times Leader has been receiving an outpouring of condolences from Hoot well-wishers.

For the second straight Sunday, unfortunately, I must pay tribute to a friend who has died. John DeFilippo Sr. died Wednesday. He was 77.

I got to know “Jake” a handful of years ago. After you met him, it was as if had always knew him.

He was in his 26th year as being mayor of Yorkville. He took pride in that position because Yorkville meant the world to him. He was Yorkville-born, Yorkville-bred.

Being mayor was the exclamation point of 42 years of community service. Jake was on the board of public affairs from 1971-76 before serving as a councilman from 1976-88.

My first meeting with Jake took place when plans were being launched for the establishment of the Yorkville High Hall of Fame. It was easy to see that the mayor was a people person. The mayor didn’t know me from Adam, but he brought me into his loop quickly and permanently.

When anything of note was going on in Yorkville, Jake would keep me abreast. He was the ultimate ambassador for the village.

I still have yet to encounter a person who has said an ill word about him. Rather, he has cultivated the utmost respect from village officials and residents.

“Jake DeFilippo was a community-minded mayor. The village of Yorkville and our residents meant everything to him. He was my mentor and my friend,” said Councilwoman Karen Vargo. “I learned so much about village government from him. We could disagree but never be mad at each other.

“He listened to my ideas, went with some and told me why others wouldn’t work. I am sure his beautiful smile is lighting up heaven right now,” she continued. “He was greatly respected and will be missed by all who knew him.”

Councilman Ron Emerson had even closer ties to DeFilippo.

“First of all, John was my brother-in-law and a great brother-in-law and a true friend. I was married to his sister who passed away in 1992,” Emerson said. “John was a loving and caring father and grandfather who loved his family and was always there for them.

“He also loved the village of Yorkville to the point of actually running the front-end loader to clear the streets of snow and cleaning debris from various floods in the village. That was done sometimes into the night,” Emerson added. “That showed his dedication as mayor who always wanted to know what was happening in the village. John will be surely missed by everyone who knew him.”

Three other council members were also praiseworthy of DeFilippo.

“Jake served the community for many years in various capacities – from a volunteer firefighter and EMS person to a member of the BPA, to councilman, to mayor. However, he also was a loving husband and father of four who he loved dearly,” said Blair Closser, Yorkville council president. “Jake always had a sense of humor and was willing to help in anyway whenever he could. I learned a great deal from him over the many years that I served with him on council.”

Valarie Klubert, council member, added “This is such a loss, to the village, and to my family. He was there guiding me when I first came on council, and to my husband Kevin as fire chief. He always spoke so highly to me about my sons, JJ and Kristopher, and was always kind to them. I will miss him at council meetings, and his ready smile for everyone. He will be truly missed as my friend.”

Councilman Dan DiCenzo added, “Jake was a good friend, his concern was for the village of Yorkville and its residents. He will be sadly missed by all.”

Police Chief John Morelli forged a close bond with the mayor over the years.

“I have been an officer in Yorkville for 17 years and have always had a great relationship with him. Very seldom did we have our differences,” Chief Morelli said. “The mayor was always a man for the people. The village was fortunate to be have him. He was always in good spirits and always made you laugh.”

Jake and his wife Dorothy were going to celebrate their 56 years of marriage this coming week. They were high school sweethearts.

“John loved being mayor,” Dorothy said. “He was all about family, people and the village.”

The couple have four children, Dr. John Jr. and Charles of St. Clairsville and Douglass and Rebecca of Columbus.

The mayor was supervisor of the lab at Martins Ferry Hospital (East Ohio Regional).


BRITISH OPEN: Golf’s third major unfolds this week. I can only hope Tiger Woods goes belly up like he did in the U.S. Open, blaming elbow issues. Tiger will be in the hunt, as he is overdue in the majors, but I cannot pick him. My choice is Lee Westwood. He is even more overdue than Tiger.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Dr. Dianna Vargo. The Ohio County Schools Superintendent has been selected the distinguished alumni award recipient during the St. Clairsville High School Alumni Association’s 21st annual picnic. It will be held Saturday, July 27, at the J.B. Martin Recreation Center, St. Clairsville. Dianna personifies professionalism and class.

ENTRIES ARE being accepted for the 2013 Martins Ferry Volunteer Fire Department Betty Zane Days Festival mushball tournament. The mushball tournament will be held from Aug. 5-9 in conjunction with the annual Betty Zane Days. The tournament is a double-elimination event. Rules and schedules will be distributed when a team registers. The registration fee is $75 per team, and each team must designate a team captain. Teams are permitted to obtain sponsorships as well. To register, call either Mike Reese at 740-296-0115 or Tom Regis at 740-296-0123.

STATE REP. Jack Cera,?Democrat of Bellaire, will be among the speakers at the town hall meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Martins Ferry council chambers. Cera will be presenting updates on issues concerning the Ohio Valley and the state of Ohio as well as federal government issues which may have an impact on area residents.?He will answer questions from the public. Other officials also may attend and provide additional information regarding concerns.

THE NEXT Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting will be Thursday, at noon, at Country Club Retirement Campus, 55801 Conno-Mara Drive, Bellaire. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. All local businesses and their employees are welcome to attend. Reservations are due by Tuesday, by calling the chamber office 740-676-9723 or email bellairechamber@yahoo.com.

HOPEDALE NATIVE Paul Culver Jr. has been selected to enter the Ohio High Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Culver is currently head coach at Thornville Sheridan, leading the Generals since 1981. He cut his head coaching teeth at Glouster Trimble from 1973-78 before leading Buckeye North for two seasons. His overall record is 303-123-5.

TWO PIECES of good news came out of Thursday night’s village council meeting in Bellaire. First, it was revealed that the former Hap’s Bar building has been purchased and will be renovated for a business ready to move in. It will put much-needed life into a current dead corner on Belmont Street. Secondly, I like the idea of a Bellaire Zombie-Fest. Council members approved plans for the August 2014 event, which will feature live entertainment, vendors, a car show, zombie walk, a staged Thriller dance, giveaways and Zombie movies. It will attract people into the village, spending money in the village.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes go out to Times Leader Sports Editor Seth Staskey. He turned 33 Friday. Seth gets his birthday gift Monday when Twinkies return to the market.

THIS WEEK in the Ohio Valley is one of the biggest in terms of entertainment with the onset of Jamboree In The Hills. For all those attending the country music spectacle, enjoy the event but don’t do anything stupid like driving while impaired.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com