QUINCY -- Joe Bonansinga was regularly called Quincy's greatest cheerleader, spending most of his adult life promoting the city in one fashion or another.
That included an active role in United Way of Adams County endeavors, so much so that the organization's most prestigious honor, the Community Service Award, is named after him.
Bonansinga, often referred to as "Mr. Quincy," died in April 2003 at age 92.
Former United Way of Adams County Executive Director Cheryl Waterman had a long working relationship with Bonansinga. She feels the United Way award that honors his memory is extremely fitting.
"That says he was a big part of our lives and a big part of the United Way each year," Waterman said at the time of Bonansinga's death. "Joe was always active in the United Way. He could even talk about when it started back in 1937."
Emily Robbearts, executive director of the United Way of Adams County, has nothing but fond memories of Bonansinga and his role(s) with the United Way.
"He was always a champion for the community," Robbearts said. "He helped set the bar high for the United Way."
Bonansinga was a key figure in the 1997 United Way annual campaign, the first that topped $1 million. The campaign total hasn't been less than that figure since that year.
"If Joe felt something needed to be done for the community, he would not quit until it was accomplished, and he made it happen in a nice way," said Paul Brown, a longtime friend of Bonansinga upon receiving the 2016 Community Service Award. "This is the highest honor a citizen of Quincy can have. To be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Bonansinga is an honor."
Amy Looten, former executive director of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, said Bonansinga always had ideas about how to beautify the city and how to promote cultural events.
"Joe Bonansinga was so successful in promoting Quincy because he truly loved this community," Looten said. "His heart belonged to Quincy, and he believed with all his might in Quincy's people."
Waterman worked closely with Bonansinga for 17 years. The two served on served on numerous United Way committees.
"Joe's mind was ageless. He was always abreast of what was going on in the community," Waterman said. "We always counted on Joe when (United Way) needed a voice."
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD WINNERS
1998: Joe Bonansinga
1999: Harry and Carlene Geisler
2000: Carla Gosney
2001: Rocky and Rhonda Murry
2002: The Rev. Tim White
2003: Tony and Signe Oakley
2004: Carolyn and Steve Hagood
2005: Chuck Scholz
2006: Hermann Schneidmann
2007: Darrell Peacher
2008: H.W. Knapheide
2009: Lee Lindsay Curtis
2010: Kathy Ridder
2011: George Meyer
2012: Terry Myers
2013: Becky Albert
2014: Michael Klingner
2015: Brad Billings
2016: Paul Brown
2017: Jeff Spear