First Posted: 6/12/2013
The Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association/the bar association of Luzerne County is an old and prestigious organization that dates back to 1850. In the century and a half years of its existence, the association has had 49 presidents, including its current president, Attorney Joseph F. Saporito Jr. of Pittston. Attorney Saporito shares a very special connection with the 37th president of the local bar, Attorney Joseph F. Saporito Sr. — his father.
In the long history of the organization, this is the only father-son presidency that has ever occurred.
Joseph F. Saporito, Sr. served as Bar President from 1988 through 1989.
He was born on January 12, 1919, the third of nine children of Carlo and Sarah Saporito of Pittston. A life-long resident of Pittston, Joe Sr. attended the Pittston School District as a boy, graduating, as a teenager, from Wyoming Seminary High School in 1936. He then attended Penn State University, completing his studies and graduating in three years. He then decided to go to law school, attending the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle.
Upon graduating law school, in 1942, Attorney Saporito enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served for four years in Okinawa in the Pacific. At the time of his honorable discharge, he had attained the rank of Lieutenant.
In 1946, Joe Sr. returned home to the Wyoming Valley and began to practice law becoming associated with Frank J. Flannery, Patrick J. Flannery, J. Earl Langan and David Yelen. At sometime during this period, the group was joined by Thomas C. Gibbons, who later became a United States Bankruptcy Judge.
The two lawyers, Joe Sr. and Tom Gibbons, formed a tight friendship that would last many years. Joe and his wife (”Dolly” — the former Yolanda Adonizio) would serve as the godparents to Tom’s youngest son, Patrick.
Friendship was important to Joe Saporito Sr. and he related this to his son, Joe Jr., often. He would remind his son that it is so important to go through life with friends by your side. Joe Sr. would say, “Throughout life, we will have multiple acquaintances, many friends, some good friends, but only a few best friends.”
Tom Gibbons would be Joe Sr.’s best friend, even serving on Joe’s bar association Memorial Committee, when Joe passed away decades later.
In 1951, Joe and Dolly were married. A son, Carlo, was born in 1953 to the loving couple. Also, in 1953, Joe Saporito Sr., at 34 years-old, was elected the Mayor of the City of Pittston, defeating the incumbent mayor in the Primary. He was the youngest mayor to be elected at that time.
In a strange twist, the incumbent mayor passed away unexpectedly in July of 1953, leaving the Office of Mayor vacant. The City Council installed Joe to fill this vacancy. As the Republican candidate, he then went on to face, and easily defeat, his Democratic challenger in the General Election.
It was a proud moment for not only Joe, but for his father and father-in-law (the late Pasquale “Tony Rose” Adonizio) both of whom were Italian immigrants and successful mine operators. Joe Sr.’s father, Carlo, was especially proud that the community had selected his son to be its leader.
Family was important to Joe. And, on March 8, 1960, Joe Sr. became a proud father for the second time, when his son Joe Jr. was born. Joe’s love of family and of his community, also carried over into his practice of law, where he loved and valued his clients as fellow citizens and as friends.
He was never too busy to go beyond and do a little extra for a client in need. An example was when he was visiting a client in her home and happened to notice that when the woman opened her refrigerator it was empty. Joe called Insalaco’s Supermarket and sent the woman a complete grocery order so that she would not go hungry. In another case, he helped clients, a young couple, obtain a house that they had their hearts set on, by buying it and simply having them pay him back over time without any interest.
Attorney Joseph F. Saporito Sr. loved the law and he loved being a lawyer. He was an old school lawyer: a person who felt that no case was too big or too small. It was about helping people. Joe enjoyed the practice of law and he he had a special affection for the Greater Pittston community. Photos of Joe at different area functions line the office hallway — including a dashing portrait of him in uniform. He was proud of his service to his country.
And, closer to home, he always had a special place in his heart for the City of Pittston. Not surprisingly, when the City turned 100 years old, it was Joe who was asked to read the Proclamation. This was fitting as so much of Joe’s life was devoted to Pittston and the Pittston area over the years of his law practice. He served as Solicitor to Hughestown. He served as Solicitor for the Pittston Area Industrial Development and was a founding member of that nonprofit corporation.
He was a lifelong member of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce and of St. Joseph Marello Parish (formerly Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church). In February 2002, the Sunday Dispatch honored the memory of Joe by awarding posthumously him the Lifetime Service Award and establishing this award in his name as the Joseph F. Saporito Sr. Lifetime Service Award. This award is presented annually to a selected individual from the community. Joe would have loved this as he loved his community so much – and, must smile down from Heaven.
Finally, loving the law and being a lawyer, Joe loved his law school Alma Mater. On one of the walls in the waiting area of the office a stately painting of the Dickinson School of Law hangs proudly on the wall. Joe’s love of Dickinson and the practice of law would have a great influence on Joseph F. Saporito Jr. One of Joe Sr.’s happy accomplishments was being the founder of the law firm of Saporito, Saporito & Falcone in Pittston.
Joe, Sr. died on August 6, 2001 after practicing law in Pittston and Luzerne County for 55 years.
Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. Attorney Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. practiced law with his father starting in 1985. He had attended the Dickinson School of Law from 1982 to 1985. He earned his undergraduate degree from Villanova University in 1982, having graduated from Scranton Preparatory School in 1978.
Joe Jr. is married to the former Giovanna Falcone, who is a school nurse. They have two children, Sarah and Joseph F. Saporito, III.
Like his father, Joe Jr. belongs to a wide array of professional and community service organizations. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, American Association for Justice, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and the Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association. Joe belongs to the Knights of Columbus, Council 372, Pittston.
He is a member of the Earthly Angels Autism board. He is a former member of the Pittston Memorial Library Association and a former member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Scranton Preparatory School.
He is a member of St. Joseph Marello Parish, (formerly Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel Church) its Holy Name Society, and serves as a Lector, and as a member of the Parish Financial Council Joe Jr.is a principal in the law firm of Saporito, Saporito & Falcone.
He is also serves as an Assistant Public Defender of Luzerne County and as Solicitor of the Pittston Area School District and the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce.
Joe practiced law with his father for 16 wonderful years, receiving life lessons on a daily basis from the older Saporito as well as learning his profession first hand from a master craftsman. He has the honor of working with his brother, Carlo, a paralegal, his law partner and brother-in-law, Attorney Samuel A. Falcone, Jr. and their associate, Attorney William J. Watt, III. Joe, Jr. and Sam are fortunate to have a seasoned and devoted staff in Nicole Rinaldi, Lee Ann Shovlin, Patricia Survilla and Tracy Ciarimboli.
Through the high standards established by Joe, Sr., and a strong record of performance, Saporito, Saporito, & Falcone has earned the trust and loyalty of its clients.
In the end, Joe Sr. was a mentor as well as a father to his son, not only in the practice of law, but in the living of life. And, Joe Sr. had a decorated legal career and life. It is no wonder that Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. followed his father’s example and was selected by his fellow practicing lawyers to be the President of the local Bar, being elected President in 2012 and re-elected in January 2013 for a second term. The Presidency of this father and son is a first in the long history of the local bar association and sets a very high bar for others to follow who may come after them.
Joseph P.J. Burke III is executive director of the Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association.