District Attorney Gene Vittone Remembers For Life Of Service | Local News
Even in his final days, District Attorney Gene Vittone continued to work for Washington County and its residents in what his friends and colleagues said he exemplified a life of dedicated service to others.
Vittone spoke with his senior lieutenant, First Deputy District Attorney Jason Walsh, on Friday afternoon, apparently giving him instructions on how to run the office in his absence.
“He was performing his duties,” Walsh said, adding that he wished to keep the conversation between them private. “Gene cared a lot about his office.”
Vittone, who had been hospitalized in recent days while battling lung cancer, died on Saturday. He was 61 years old.
“Gene was a great human being, a great DA. He represented the world to Washington County and its people, ”Walsh said Sunday. “It is very sad and my heart goes out to his family.”
The president, Judge John DiSalle, had been Vittone’s friend since they were in fourth grade, and they continued that friendship even though the district attorney often argued in front of him in court. DiSalle suggested that Vittone take some time for himself after his lung cancer diagnosis last year, but Vittone insisted on continuing in his duties, even though the COVID-19 pandemic could have made it dangerous for him.
“He was very dedicated to his job and to his office. He communicated with (Walsh) until the end, giving instructions, ”said DiSalle. “He’s a dedicated public servant, always has been. Dedicated to helping people.
DiSalle said dedication to service – first as a certified paramedic and later in law – will be Vittone’s lasting legacy. The presiding judge said that Vittone’s most important job was to fight the opioid epidemic when overdose deaths began to rise several years ago. Vittone helped concoct the Opioid Overdose Coalition which brought together various agencies to tackle the problem, while making it a priority to prosecute traffickers who sold deadly batches of drugs to people.
Vittone, a Republican, had served as a district attorney for nearly a decade after winning the election by less than 100 votes against Democratic candidate Dave DiCarlo in November 2011. Vittone was reelected twice more and was in his midst of his career. third term when he died. . Prior to being elected district attorney, Vittone served as a deputy district attorney for a dozen years, dealing with juvenile court and criminal trials, and then established the county drug treatment court.
Prior to that, he was an emergency medical technician – working as a paramedic in law school – and later helped run the Washington Ambulance and Chair Service at one point. He remained a certified paramedic for the rest of his life. Vittone grew up in Peters Township, but recently lived in Bentleyville.
Walsh will soon be elevated to the rank of district attorney, although he said on Sunday he did not know when that would happen. Walsh said he isn’t worried about this position at the moment and instead wants the focus to be on Vittone’s family.
“He cared about everyone and he was a great human being. I am honored and humbled that he has entrusted me with continuing his legacy as District Attorney, ”said Walsh. “She was a very special person.”
Washington County Commission Chair Diana Irey Vaughan also offered condolences and thanks to Vittone’s family, including his wife Jane Ann.
“Too often family members are overlooked when someone serves to the extent that Gene Vittone did,” said Irey Vaughan. “We should all be very grateful to his family for the sacrifice he made to serve us.”
She said the county would lower its half-staff flags this week in honor of Vittone.
“Gene’s enduring legacy is serving others and caring for others in times of crisis. He will be sorely missed, ”said Irey Vaughan. “He was extremely dedicated, a hard worker and a champion of justice.”
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but services are expected to take place later in the week.
DiSalle believes the community will come to honor a man who was not only Washington County’s top police officer, but a dedicated family man, youth baseball coach and member of the Immaculate Conception choir.
“I have lost a good friend and the county and the community have lost a dedicated public servant,” said DiSalle. ” We will miss him.