Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tradition key for Greater Pittston Friendly Sons

March 17. 2013 11:42PM

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PLAINS TWP. - In keeping with tradition, James Clancy attended the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick banquet Sunday night with his father and son.

Clancy, a major with Pennsylvania National Guard, wanted his 9-year-old son, Jack, and father, James Sr., to be part of the celebration.

Being president of the organization also played a part. He wrapped up his year in office at the Friendly Sons’ 99th annual banquet at the Woodlands Inn & Resort with approximately 375 guests in attendance, many of them family members and a lot of them friends.

“The tradition of Friendly Sons is a father-son banquet,” Clancy said.

He first attended in 2007 with Andy Ashby, a former major league baseball pitcher. Like Ashby, Clancy did not grow up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He grew up in Secaucus, N.J. And like Ashby, who was honored at the banquet with the Swingle Award for community service, Clancy called the Greater Pittston area home.

Ashby, who pitched in the big leagues for 14 seasons with five teams including the Philadelphia Phillies, said he was fortunate enough to be able to give back to the community through baseball clinics and speaking at schools. He also has visited with service men and women in the United States and abroad.

“I love the area,” said Ashby, a native of Kansas City, Mo.

The principal speaker at the banquet, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, moved to Clarks Summit from Morrisville in the 1980s while he was an FBI agent.

“The thing that means the most to me is that I’m from this area,” Noonan said. “I know so many people here, and they’re all friends. So being asked to come back to be the principal speaker is a real joy.”

He planned to talk about family, tradition and sacrifice. His ancestors immigrated to the United States from County Cork in Ireland.

“There’s no place else where people had the chance to come over here with nothing and to have their next generation and the next generation keep improving,” Noonan said.

The Friendly Sons’ “Man of the Year,” Mark Casper, was initially reluctant to accept the award.

“My two sons implored my to take this,” said Casper, of Exeter.

He’s coached youth basketball for nearly three decades and notched 500 wins at the former St. Mary’s Assumption School in Pittston and Wyoming Area Catholic School.

“I did it as a favor 28 years ago,” Casper said. One of his players was Jarrett J. Ferentino, a Luzerne County assistant district attorney, the toastmaster of the banquet.


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