Hall of Fame inducts newest members

WEIRTON – It was a time to pay tribute and remember those who have given of themselves for their community Sunday as the Weirton Hall of Fame inducted its newest members.

Seven individuals from Weirton’s history were inducted into the hall Sunday, surrounded and represented by family, friends and many others who have known them during a dinner at the Knights of Columbus hall.

“We’re here to honor some wonderful people,” Hall of Fame Committee Chair Frank Bohach said.

The members of the Weirton Hall of Fame Class of 2013 include: John B. Sorrenti, for public service; George Canei, for sports; Emily Horvat, for professionals; Tony P. Sellitti, for business and industry; Millie Gerbo, for education; Mary “Molly” Binkoski Porter, for public service; and Rick Witkowski, for music and fine arts.

Mayor George Kondik congratulated the inductees, saying they brought their own special flavor to the city of Weirton with their contributions.

“They’re all Weirton people,” he said. “They’re all unique in their own way.”

Kondik also thanked the Hall of Fame committee, explaining it takes several months to select a class.

Gerbo has spent much of her life as an educator and an advocate for children with disabilities.

“This award has been very humbling for me,” Gerbo said, noting she always considered her work as a calling more than a vocation.

Inspired by her daughter, Sara, Gerbo continues to assist those with disabilities, forming support groups, raising money for local programs and hosting social events at her home.

Co-founder of rock group Crack the Sky and owner of Studio L, Witkowski, in true musical fashion, grabbed his guitar and began singing his acceptance speech.

“It’s like a security blanket,” he said.

Throughout his performance, Witkowski thanked his family and friends for providing the inspiration for his life.

“The older you get, the more you realize that the more you give the more you get,” Witkowski sang.

Among those mentioned in particular were his parents, siblings, in-laws, his wife, Deb, and friends Gus Monezis and B.E. Taylor, who was on hand Sunday to sing the national anthem.

Witkowski also has been involved in writing and performing music for a variety of television shows and movies.

A member of the staff of The Weirton Daily Times for 40 years, Horvat said she felt the honor should have gone to the community itself.

“As a newspaper reporter and photographer, I was only doing what I loved best, reporting the news that you made,” Horvat said.

She said she couldn’t have done it without the help of her late husband, Mike, her children and her former co-workers, including Daily Times editors Earle Wittpenn and Paul Glover.

The award for John B. Sorrenti was accepted by his son, John J. Sorrenti, who recalled his father’s years of public service as well as the way he would entertain children by pulling a quarter from their ear and then letting them keep the coin.

The elder Sorrenti served on numerous boards and organizations in Weirton, founding the Weirton Kiwanis Radio Auction, advising school clubs at Weir High and Weirton Madonna, and was among the original planners for the Salvation Army Citadel.

“You can achieve anything with passion,” John J. Sorrenti said in explaining his father’s dedication to giving back to the community.

Janet Stagani accepted the award on behalf of her brother, George Canei, who spent many years working with local youth sports programs and had his own sports radio program on WEIR 1430 AM.

Stagani explained her brother, known to many as “The Wizard,” would go out of his way to make sure the community knew of the local young athletes’ accomplishments, and even raise money to make sure they had proper uniforms and equipment.

“I still have people come up to me. They tell me how George interacted in their lives,” Stagani said. “That’s all he tried to do was make people happy.”

Tony P. Sellitti, developer of two Weirton neighborhoods and more than 600 area homes, was recognized by daughter Lisa Sellitti-Mogan.

“He loved Weirton,” she said. “He was so proud to be a part of this community.”

Sellitti developed Country Club Estates and Riverview Estates, as well as the Student Union Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Immaculate Conception Church in New Cumberland, Sacred Heart of Mary Parish Convent, three city fire stations and the Lynwood Park Swim Club among many other projects.

Pam McCune accepted the award for her mother, Mary “Molly” Binkoski Porter, who was the first woman elected to serve as a member of Weirton City Council.

“My family has always been proud of my mother’s service,” McCune said.

In addition to representing the residents of Ward 6 from 1975 to 1983, Porter also worked to register voters, served on the National Democratic Committee, and volunteered with many church organizations.

According to McCune, however, her mother’s proudest accomplishment was being a grandmother.

The Weirton Hall of Fame was established to recognize and honor former and current Weirton residents for outstanding accomplishments in six specific categories. Nominees can go back to the city’s incorporation in 1947 and must have lived in the city for at least five continuous years.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)