Lycoming County lost a giant in the realm of patriotism and Boy Scouting in the death last week of Tony DiSalvo, who would have turned 90 in April, more importantly it lost a good man, period.
Perhaps no one in this county has been more zealous and diligent in promoting patriotism and love for his country’s flag and celebrating the goodness of America than Tony did.
He came by this naturally. He told me as a youngster, he made the mistake of not getting up off the curb as the flag approached during a parade that saw the local National Guard unit go off to fight in World War II. He was chastised severely by his Italian immigrant father, who berated him in broken English about this seeming disrespect for our nation’s flag. Even though Tony’s dad’s English was broken his unbounded love of his adopted country was not and he instilled in his son a love for that flag and the country it represents.
This incident also served as catalyst for Tony to become a Boy Scout, since his father was impressed with their proud carrying of the flag in that parade. Tony went on to become an Eagle Scout and later a scoutmaster.
For 35 years he was the sparkplug, catalyst and spiritual father of the City of Williamsport’s annual “God and Country Flag Day March.” He restarted this patriotic celebration when patriotism seemed to be on the wane. It was his drive and strong persuasive powers that would make this into a highly anticipated occasion that helped to kindle and rekindle love of country and love of our country’s flag. He is most certainly among the first rank of patriots to have walked among us.
His other great passion was the Boy Scout program. He was a member of that venerable program for over 75 years, first as a Scout himself and then as one its most active leaders in the area, leaving a positive imprint on hundreds of Boy Scouts over the years. Many of the Boy Scouts that Tony mentored and encouraged became prominent in our community in many walks of life. And what they learned from him helped to make Lycoming County a better place.
One of his Scouts and a relative of his, Tony Rampulla, wrote a moving post on Facebook on what Tony DiSalvo meant to him.
“He will be sadly missed by family, friends and his community that he proudly served. He had molded many boys and young adults over his life time in scouting and his love of the flag and patriotism. He dedicated his life to volunteerism. It is very evident he was a terrific leader and cheerleader as I was working on my Eagle rank at Camp Kline trying to get my swimming merit badge to complete the 21 badges to receive my Eagle rank. Without much experience in swimming two miles in Pine Creek he strongly convinced me in his commanding voice, ” damn it Ramp you can do this, there is boat that will be near you if you get in trouble”! His words rang true and I completed the couple hour swim in the cold Pine Creek. Spent many winter and summer camps with Troop 50 and with cousin Tony, sometimes I think he was harder on me than some of the other scouts because I was family! I am truly grateful for the memories for what he taught me and have carried these values through my life time. Without a doubt he was demanding but had a heart of gold. I will miss his animation as he talked about community, God and love of his country. He had molded many young boys and men over 75+ years. He was very instrumental in making me what I am today, I have passed down these values to my children! Rest in eternal peace “Mort.”
Tony DiSalvo was always very proud of all the national Boy Scout Jamborees he attended going back to 1936. It was a point of pride for him, and rightfully so. Even his last days Boy Scouting was an integral and proud part of his life. It must have been with great pride and humility that Tony received the “Distinguished Eagle Scout Award” from local Boy Scout officials at his bedside.
Tony remembers he and other kids of Italian heritage being made fun of and picked on because they were Italian, he never forgot that, and always strove to fight prejudice and promote brotherhood. He took that to new levels with his enthusiastic involvement with the Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance. He was a great family man but he also believed strongly in the Family OF Man.
It stated in his obituary that “It can’t be overstated his value to the community, the lives of the people he touched and the lives he changed through the organizations he served.” It is hard for me to improve upon that sentiment.
In the Bible it says “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Tony certainly did that and he served his community and his nation well.
When you see “Old Glory” fluttering in the wind think of Tony. It is a sign that he is still casting his love of country and sense of duty upon us.