ROBERT J. GAUDIO, a local attorney who has served on the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival board of directors for 12 years and as chairman for six of those years, has been named 2014 Italian American of the Year.
"Surprised, pleased for my family, very honored. Those were my first reactions to the amazing news," Gaudio said. "I am passionate about my Italian heritage and cannot express in mere words how tremendous the award makes me feel. And I am so happy for my dear family to be recognized twice in Festival history. My father, Merle Gaudio was named the Italian festival Honoree in 2001. I only wish my parents could be alive to share this honor with the rest of us."
Festival chairman Ronald Castellucci praised Gaudio for his commitment to the Italian heritage and the upper Ohio Valley community.
"The board of directors is honored to award a citizen who has spent countless hours and worked tirelessly to promote Italian culture while maintaining the Festival's focus on growing the scholarship fund for the area's deserving students of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. Bob's years of service through his professional and volunteer work truly place him high in the class of past honorees of the Festival. And as chairman of the Festival, Bob set the bar high for the present board members. He showed us how to maintain the Festival as one of the most popular Italian festivals in the United States."
A son of the late Merle and Catharine Meyer Gaudio, the 2014 honoreee grew up in Follansbee and resides in Triadelphia with his wife, Clare McDonald, and youngest son, David. His oldest child, Nathan and his wife, Amanda live in Pittsburgh, while his daughter Elizabeth, resides in Baltimore. Working in the criminal defense arena for the First Circuit Public Defender Corporation, Robert practices chiefly in Brooke County courts.
A former Peace Corps volunteer, Gaudio's community-service record includes his work as vice president and Region 1 representative on the Legal Aid of West Virginia board of directors, program coordinator for the YSS Wheeling SleepOut project and the board of he Wheeling Vintage Racebook Regatta.
A member of St. Michael's Parish in Wheeling, Robet is a lector, an altar server trainer, a coach of he school's forensic team and a member of the Liturgical committee.
audio and his family will be honored in May along with the 2014 scholarship winners at a media reception at West Virginia Northern Community College and again in July at the Festival Kick-off dinner and throughout the Italian Festival weekend scheduled for July 25, 26 and 27 at Wheeling's Heritage Port.