WELLSVILLE - Black tablecloths and yellow placesettings greeted attendees of the 2012 Citizens of the Year awards dinner at the Wellsville Alumni Center, presented by the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday night.
The special color scheme was no accident, either. It was to welcome the event's guest speaker, former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback and Super Bowl XIII champion Dwayne Woodruff, who now serves as a judge with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh.
Woodruff spoke with pride about his accomplishments on the field and recounted the phenomenal success of the Super Bowl-winning team he played with in 1979. However, he stressed the optimism and perseverance of his teammates during the 1989 season, which began with a brutal 51-0 shutout by arch-rival Cleveland Browns, followed up one week later with a 41-10 defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals. They eventually made it to the divisional playoffs, ending the season 9-7.
When guest speaker and former Pittsburgh Steeler Dwayne Woodruff asked if there were any Cleveland Browns fans in the room, Steve Creaturo, wearing orange and sporting a Browns tie pin, proudly stood and accepted the crowd’s applause and good-natured ribbing during the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce’ Citizens of the Year awards dinner Thursday night. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
From his years as a lawyer and on the bench, Woodruff says he had ample opportunity to observe what's wrong and right with society, particularly the youth of the community. Though young people need to be taught responsibility for their mistakes, he said a lack of parental guidance has been key in creating the problem, limiting growth in responsibility and character. "Ladies and gentlemen, we do not have a juvenile problem," Woodruff gravely said. "We have an adult problem."
A 1979 graduate of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, Woodruff earned a Juris Doctorate from the Duquesne University School of Law. He became a founding partner in the law firm of Woodruff, Flaherty and Fardo following his retirement in 1990 and was elected to the Allegheny County Common Pleas bench in 2005.
Lisa Ferguson, principal at Garfield Elementary School, extended her thanks to her family, including her mother, Marlene Corbisello, and her husband, Kevin Ferguson, both in attendance. She also thanked all of the children whom she has been able to teach and influence throughout her career. "Please know how much difference you have made in my life," she said.
Greg Thrasher, who was named Man of the Year, became emotional during his acceptance speech, thanking his father and late mother, and recounting how they had respectively won Woman of the Year and Man of the Year honors from the chamber as well. "It's really an honor to follow in the footsteps I'm following in," he said.
CF Bank was named Business of the Year, with bank president Thad Perry accepting the award and thanking the community for continued support and investment through good times and bad over the course of the institution's long history.