By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Whether serving his country or serving the city of Bristol, Tony Sileo has embodied the concept of a hometown hero in a variety of ways.
Surrounded by his family and the Mum Festival Committee, who all for cheered him at Bristol Public Library last Wednesday, Tony felt honored to be this year’s “Hometown Hero.” During the 54th annual Mum Festival, Tony will be honored formally at the Hometown Hero Breakfast scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27 at American Legion Post 2.
“I feel honored,” said Tony.
A World War II veteran, Tony saved the life of another GI while serving in Italy, and was awarded the Bronze Star from the U.S. Army, as well as the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division.
A member of the American Legion for 50 years, one of the things Tony feels most proud of is the scholarship that he, along with others from Company I-85 Mountain Division established at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. Every year since the scholarship’s inception in the early 1990s, financial aid is awarded to family members of the 10th Mountain Division.
Besides giving back to veterans, Tony also worked with youth over the years, getting involved with American Legion baseball for over two decades, volunteering for the Boy Scouts and tutoring children at South Side School for seven years. Tony said working with the children has served as a rewarding experience.
“When you see the children here it’s really great,” said Tony, who also volunteered in the children’s department of Bristol Public Library with his wife Jennie.
One can find Tony at the Bristol Public Library’s Bristol Room on a daily basis. Whether learning about the products made by the Ingraham Company or New Departure, which employed thousands of people in the city, anyone walking through the Bristol History Room can step back in time through the photographs, postcards, and books that depict the city’s industrial past. For Tony, that history is something he enjoys being a part of.
He also is a member of the Friends of the Bristol Public Library, and has volunteered at library events for over many years.
“I enjoy this—it’s very interesting here,” said Tony, who has been married to Jennie for over 60 years.
In addition, Tony has served the city through his involvement with local politics. Not only has Tony served on the Republican Town Committee for 50 years, but also served on the Board of Assessors.
After spending a couple of hours with Tony, Darlene Sawe, who serves on the Mum Festival Committee, said he is “truly the epitome” of what a hometown hero is.
“He not only served in the Armed Forces, but he has done a lot for the city of Bristol, for the children,” said Sawe.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO