Men like Anthony J. "Tony" Cipriani Sr. are the backbones of America's hometowns. A lifelong resident of Brooke County, Tony is a native of Follansbee and a product of the Follansbee school system.
Like most men of the industrial Upper Ohio Valley, Tony logged many hours in the mill working at Follansbee Bros. Co. (later Follansbee Steel) for nearly four years, before enlisting in the U.S. Army to serve his country.
Adept had handling the challenges of military life, Tony was encouraged to apply for officer candidates' school. He was sent to infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga., and after completing the course, was commissioned as a second lieutenant, infantry, in June 1942. He was a participant in the invasion of North Africa, before being taken prisoner at El Guettar, Tunisia, and held as a Prisoner of War for more than two years. His actions in service to his country earned him several military medals including a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
After the war, Tony returned home and married Rose M. Cipolletti of Wellsburg. They are the parents of Anthony Jr., George, William, Christopher, Susan Grimm and Mary Paull. They have 10 grandchildren.
In 1948 Tony enrolled at DeVry Tech in Chicago, graduating in 1949 from its television and radio school. He returned to Wellsburg and opened Community Hardware, later known as Community TV. He remained in business for himself for 40 years.
All the while running a business, Tony also served the Wellsburg community as city clerk for two terms, a member of the planning commission and mayor for two-terms. His dogged determination as mayor helped deliver Wellsburg from a financial crisis in the early 1980s.
Under his mayoral leadership, Wellsburg also gained regional and national attention through its designation on the Interior Department's list of Historic Places and through its participation in the Bayer Wellness Program, which brought actor John Forsythe to the town's streets.
Tony's service to community extended to civic projects, as well, ranging from assisting with Wellsburg's legendary Fourth of July celebrations, to volunteering at the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce, being a member of the Brook County RSVP and serving as chairman of the Friends of Brooke County and the Brooke County Historical Museum Board.
His interest in the town's history propelled him to write the book, Wellsburg, West Virginia 1791-1991, and to develop the Wellsburg Historical Walking Tour in 1996.
He remains active in St. John's Catholic Church of Wellsburg and its choir, the Kiwanis Club, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Elks, Knights of Columbus and Garibaldi Lodge.
The recipient of numerous awards including the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce's "Man of the Year," the Kiwanis Distinguished Service Award and the Kiwanis Legion of Honor for 30 years' service, Tony can be counted on to help when his community calls.