DUPONT — If you look up the word “volunteer” in the dictionary, you might think you’re reading about Bob Price.
Price’s desire to volunteer on any project he’s asked to — whether it be to take photos at events or organize the borough’s centennial last year — has earned him the honor of being named the Sunday Dispatch Person of the Year for 2017.
The Sunday Dispatch Person of the Year represents the person/persons who had the greatest impact on life in Greater Pittston. Nominations are solicited from the community with the final vote being made by the Dispatch editorial staff.
The 56-year-old Dupont resident said he was humbled when he received the news, and that he’s grateful to join the list of previous award winners.
“I was looking at that list last year and I’m honored to be part of it,” Price said. “I’m honored and humbled to be chosen and to be joining a list of very exceptional people.”
“Welcome to Dupont”
Despite being a known resident of Dupont Borough, Price was born in Harding and moved to several other locations in Greater Pittston in his young life.
He moved from Harding to Falls to Pittston and then finished out his high school days in West Pittston where he was a 1979 Wyoming Area graduate.
He graduated from Penn State with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications Technology and currently works for Johnson Controls in Allentown as the Regional Fleet Manager.
Price married his wife Ellen, 54, in 1989. They moved to Dupont in 1996 but didn’t get their first greeting until this past year.
“Somebody came up to me and asked, ‘Price, where are you from?’ and I said, ‘We’re over on Bear Creek Road,’” he recalled. “(They asked) ‘Were you born here?’ and I said ‘No, we moved here in 1996.’ They said ‘Oh, welcome to Dupont.’”
Price got himself as actively involved in Dupont Borough as possible, which includes being the current president of the crime watch, being a member of the Lions Club, and starting the Dupont Progress Committee which planned the centennial events last year.
He works long days in Allentown, but that doesn’t stop him from being involved in his community in some capacity.
“The stuff I do for the borough is actually the enjoyment piece of it,” he said. “I’m always on the go. It’s just my personality.”
Borough Mayor Dan Lello praised Price for his commitment to the borough and the tireless hours he puts in.
“He’s a great guy,” Lello said. “Every community should have a Bob Price. Bob Price is all over Greater Pittston; we need more people like him.”
Dupont celebrated its 100th anniversary as a municipality in 2017, and Price was at the center of organizing activities.
He, along with a core group of 15 other residents, formed the Progress Committee in 2014 to put on a year’s worth of events to celebrate the golden anniversary.
Events included a clam chowder dinner, a Mardi Gras, a celebratory dinner, Night at the RailRiders, a Pub Crawl, all leading to the culmination of a two-day event in August.
The August event featured a parade, food trucks, music, carriage rides, a Touch-A-Truck, a 5K run and much more.
“It was well attended and everybody had a great time with it,” Price said.
Other events in town that include Progress Committee representation are the Memorial Day Parade, Easter Egg Hunt and Trunk or Treat.
The end of the year event that Price played a huge role in was the Christmas tree lighting, something he helped bring back a few years ago after it was non-existent for decades.
“The first event we actually did (as the Progress Committee) was the tree lighting our first year,” he said. “From talking to people in town, it had been done years ago. Then, when the (borough) building still had a flat roof they had the tree on the roof. Well, one year it decided to blow over and that was the end of that. But, everybody seemed to like it, so we brought it back.”
To put on a year’s worth of events for a town in which he didn’t grow up, Price said the people and the borough’s history motivated him to work tirelessly to celebrate the milestone.
“It’s a great group of people,” he said. “There’s a lot of history in the town that people are proud of.”
The Camera Man Can
Whenever there’s an event in Greater Pittston, there’s a good chance Price is there with his camera.
He purchased his first camera when he was 13 years old and has been infatuated with photography ever since.
“When I was in high school, actually my senior year, our yearbook advisor was a photographer for the newspapers,” Price said. “I started hanging out with him and doing pictures for the yearbook, going to football games, going to basketball games and learning the press side of things from him.”
Price learned studio photography from a gentleman in Harrisburg, and eventually started taking pictures in the Wyoming Valley.
He’s had photos published locally in the former Sunday Independent and the Sunday Dispatch and nationally at Roadside America. He was also published in a magazine in Italy. His work was also displayed on Art on Main in Pittston.
Despite the recognition, Price said he photographs events because he enjoys it.
“There are so many different things I’m part of that I do pictures at, and it kind of expanded from there,” he said. “People started asking me ‘Hey, we’re having this could you come down?’ or ‘This is going on, can you come down?’ and I just started hanging out with all of these different events and people. I’ve kind of become the Pittston Paparazzi.”
His photos typically appear on social media, but if people ask him for a copy of a photo, he obliges.
Price’s 15-year-old son Jon has experienced his fair share of photographing events and, since his dad put a camera in his hand, he’s enjoyed learning on the job.
“I just love getting out to events,” Jon said. “It’s great seeing new people and meeting new people.”
Volunteering with others
In addition to his volunteer duties with Dupont, Price is involved with several other organizations — Paint Pittston Pink, Greater Pittston Cultural Coalition (GPCC), Pittston Arts Council, NEPA Inclusive — to name a few.
Duryea Borough Mayor Keith Moss has worked closely with Price in the GPCC for the past six years, and his drive to help others is contagious.
“Bob is just a guy that is very nice and very helpful,” Moss said. “He likes to give a helping hand to anybody and everybody; that’s just his nature. He does an absolutely fantastic job with everything that he does.”
Moss, who received the Sunday Dispatch Lifetime of Service Award for 2016, said he sees a lot of volunteerism in Price that reflect the qualities that won him the award last year.
He considers Price not only a good working partner, but a good friend.
“It means so much to have a guy know what he’s doing and be a friend of mine to help me with whatever I need,” Moss said. “Photos, crime watch, National Night Out — it doesn’t matter.
Progress Committee not done, yet
Although the Dupont Centennial has come and gone, Price said there is still more work to be done to keep the borough thriving.
He wants to continue holding events such as the Mardi Gras, the 5K, an Easter-themed Pub Crawl and an all day event in the summer.
“I don’t want to do another two-day blowout like we already had,” Price said. “But, I do want to have a good-sized event.”
His eagerness to continue volunteering and hold events for the borough reflect why he is deserving of the Sunday Dispatch Person of the Year Award and his family couldn’t be more proud.
“It is definitely an honor for him,” said Ellen Price. “It’s nice to see him recognized. A lot of what he does goes unrecognized.”
“I’m so proud to be your son, and you absolutely deserve this,” Jon said to his father. “After so many events you’ve been a part of and been the drive for — yeah, you absolutely deserve this.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher