Editor's note: ThisWeek has learned Joe DiGenova died March 19, just days after announcing his intention to leave Delaware City Council due to health issues.
At the end of April, Delaware City Council members will say farewell to a colleague, a mentor and a friend.
Joe DiGenova, the longest-serving member of council, announced last week he plans to resign effective April 30. The councilman, who has spoken openly about his battle with pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in 2013, cited health concerns in a resignation letter read by Mayor Carolyn Riggle at council's March 13 meeting.
DiGenova, 71, has represented Delaware's 3rd Ward on council since 2006 and has served with the board off and on since 1986.
DiGenova said he was happy to serve his fellow city residents over the past several decades.
"I enjoyed working in Delaware and living in Delaware, and I'm proud of the city of Delaware," he said.
Several of DiGenova's council colleagues said one word came to mind when they thought of him: mentor.
Councilman Chris Jones said DiGenova showed him the lay of the land after Jones joined the board in 2010.
"He's taught me the ins and outs of procedures and process and the best way to get results," Jones said.
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said DiGenova's long record of service makes him the perfect teacher for new members of council.
"He's just got so much experience and history with the city," he said.
Shafer said beyond serving on council, DiGenova has been a fixture for years at Delaware City School District functions and veterans events.
"I can't think of anybody more dedicated to the community," he said.
The city and Delaware County unveiled a permanent reminder of DiGenova's service to his fellow veterans on the city's west side last year.
DiGenova, a Vietnam War veteran, acted as the city's point man during the campaign to build Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Officials dedicated the plaza -- adjacent to the Delaware Community Center YMCA off South Houk Road -- on Memorial Day 2016.
At the time, DiGenova called the memorial "magnificent" and "a team effort."
The city, Delaware County, the state and private donors funded the $500,000 project.
Paul Craft, superintendent of the Delaware City School District, said DiGenova's contributions as a volunteer cannot be overstated.
"He's been so important to this entire city, but to no portion of our community more than the schools," Craft said.
The district in 2014 added DiGenova to its hall of fame; he's one of the few inductees who's not a Hayes High School alum.
Craft said the tribute was fitting for a man whose efforts have ranged from working with the district's facilities committee during the planning of a $50 million renovation and expansion project to volunteering at school bake sales.
Craft said DiGenova and his wife, Vonie, who previously worked as a student aide at the district, have been among the schools' biggest supporters.
"Together, they form such an amazing pair," Craft said.
Jones said council and the city won't be the same after DiGenova steps down.
"It's going to be a tremendous loss for the citizens of Delaware," he said. "He's given a lot of energy to the city."
The city has not announced a timeline for appointing DiGenova's successor. City spokesman Lee Yoakum said 3rd Ward residents may contact one of council's at-large members with any concerns and questions until a new council member is named.