The ‘Art’ of community service

BROCTON – There are two fixtures in Brocton. One is an object, the Brocton Arch. The other is a person, Arthur (Art or Artie) Donovan.

The Brocton Arch is seen when one enters the village. Donovan is seen all over the village and in the wider community. Civic-minded and active, he is serving his second term as a village trustee. He attended recent meetings concerning the merger of the Brocton and Westfield school districts and spoke up. This spring, he and fellow trustee Gary Planty worked to set up Brocton’s summer recreation program in cooperation with Westfield.

At a recent meeting of the Brocton Board of Education, Donovan was honored. At the age of 78, he received his high school diploma through Operation Recognition, a program to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans who left school before graduation.

Brocton Board of Education President Thomas DeJoe said, “One of the honors of being board president is I get to present this diploma.”

DeJoe has known Donovan for a long time. As he later explained, “I have been in and out of his life. We always helped each other. I have the utmost respect for Artie. … He is one of the greatest people I have ever known; there is no finer person.”

DeJoe said he was going to high school at Fredonia when he met Donovan, who was a custodian there. Later, they served as baseball and softball umpires together all over Chautauqua County. DeJoe noted that Donovan donated his time to umpire for fundraising ball games.

Calling him beloved by everyone, DeJoe explained, “Artie can take a bad situation and make it humorous.”

Village Clerk/Treasurer Karen Ardillo came up to give Donovan a hug after the presentation of the diploma.

“I am so proud of him,” she said.

Later, she listed some of his previous public offices – Town of Portland councilman and member of the zoning board. Now village trustee, he serves on the Summer Youth Recreation Board.

Ardillo said, “I am happy to have him as a board member. He only missed one meeting because he was in the hospital. He was ready to come in with his IV attached but the doctor wouldn’t let him.”

Mayor David Hazelton said, “He is a great asset to the community.”

Hazelton added the role of volunteer fireman in Fredonia and Brocton and involvement in Little League to the list of Donovan’s civic accomplishments.

Henry Link, Commander of the John W. Dill American Legion Post 434 in Brocton, said Donovan served in Germany during the Korean War Era. Donovan is a lifetime member of the American Legion and has been a member for almost 50 years. He was Post Commander in Brocton from 1998 to 2000.

As a veteran, one of the programs to which Donovan donated time was the flag education program for fourth-grade students.

Link said, “He was a strong supporter of that program and a strong supporter of correctly flying the flag.”

On a personal level, Link explained, “He is honest; tells it like it is. He also will do anything for the veterans.”

After receiving his diploma, Donovan simply said, “I am so honored.”

Later, while accepting the congratulations of Ardillo and some other well-wishing ladies, he joked, “I kiss them all.”

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