Former Pittston mayor Joseph Keating dies

By Kulsoom Khan - kkhan@timesleader.com
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PITTSTON — Mayor Mike Lombardo credited one of his predecessor’s with getting a great deal done for the city during his term.

Lombardo pointed to the work Joseph Keating did on the city’s infrastructure and his ability to keep the city on sound financial footing as two examples of the former mayor’s accomplishments.

“He deserves a lot of credit for that — just being a responsible mayor and keeping the city in good financial shape,” Lombardo said.

Keating died Monday after a grueling battle with bladder cancer, leaving behind a legacy of community service. He served as Pittston’s mayor from 2006 to 2009, was its fire chief for 10 years, served as a member of the Pittston Area School Board for a term and even served a as a district magistrate for a portion of a term.

Lombardo said that Keating was dedicated to every job that he held and that he was a “team player,” who also wasn’t afraid of making the hard decisions as mayor.

“He had a sort of stick-to-it nature about him,” Lombardo said.

Keating was the first cousin of Lombardo’s father. Lombard said that Keating was diagnosed with bladder cancer one and a half to two years ago and had been in Lankenau Medical Center near Philadelphia since last November.

Councilman Mike Lombardo, who is also a relative of Keating and a cousin of the current mayor, also remembered Keating fondly.

The councilman was a city firefighter when Keating was chief. He said he was only 17 years old when he joined the city’s fire department and that Keating took special care of him because he was so young.

“He went out of his way to look after me,” the councilman said. “That was a nice thing – to serve under one of your family members.”

He described Keating as a fun-loving person who enjoyed cooking, planning family reunions and bringing people together. “He was a lover of life,” the councilman said.

Keating was selected last December to serve as grand marshal in the city’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Parade organizers plan to pay tribute to him and his family at the event in March.

“We wish he could be here with us, but we’re happy to honor his legacy,” said Sarah Donahue, the city’s special events coordinator and co-chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “He was a very great man — very community oriented.”

Keating will be given a traditional firefighter’s funeral tentatively at the end of the week.

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By Kulsoom Khan

kkhan@timesleader.com