MOUNT CARMEL — Joseph Deppen was all about giving back to the community.
He would be proud and appreciative of the crowd that turned out Saturday in Mount Carmel Town Park to honor one of the borough’s most prominent residents and the efforts of the committee members who made the special celebration successful.
The second Joseph Deppen Day expanded on last year’s event with more activities and attracted a nice crowd that included 11 Deppen Scholarship winners from Mount Carmel Area High School who went on to graduate from Bucknell University and have successful careers in multiple professions.
Also in attendance were Deppen’s great-great-niece, Dawn (McWilliams) Kotanchik, and her son, Scott Kotanchik, of Pittsburgh. Deppen’s sister, Susan Ada Deppen, was Kotanchik’s great-grandmother.
Kotanchik, a native of Shamokin and 1971 graduate of Shamokin Area High School, who also attended Bucknell University, and her son were thrilled to be part of the festivities and thanked the community for honoring their great-great-uncle.
“This is amazing,” said Dawn Kotanchik. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to meet all the Deppen scholars who are here today. They are really nice people and appreciate the education they received at Bucknell through the generosity of Mr. Deppen. I never realized until today the impact our great-great uncle had on this community.”
Her son stated, “I heard a lot about Mr. Deppen’s generosity. He touched a lot of lives and made them better by giving students an opportunity to attend Bucknell and become successful in different walks of life.”
Although they never met Deppen, who died in 1963, the Kotanchiks said they are glad his spirit lives on at Bucknell, Mount Carmel, Lankenau Medical Center in Ardmore and in the lives of approximately 120 students who have benefited from his scholarships through the years.
Julie Griffiths, president of the Deppen Day Committee, added, “We had a nice crowd. It was a little slow at first but it really picked up once the program started. I was so happy to see more Deppen scholars here this year. Remembering the generosity of Mr. Deppen and giving back to the community is what today is all about.”
Griffiths, who gave a welcoming address, has been involved with the Deppen Scholarship Program for 36 years.
Also offering brief remarks were Deppen scholars Matt Ecker, Maria (Dempsey) Jaimes and Elizabeth “Betsy” Nolan, Deppen Day committee member and Mount Carmel Mayor Phil “Bing” Cimino, Deppen Day committee member and director of the Mother Maria Kaupus Center Jake Betz, and Shaunna Barnhart, director of the place studies program in the Center of Sustainability and the Environment with Bucknell’s Coal Region Field Station.
Ecker, a 1966 graduate of Mount Carmel Area, proudly recited his high school’s alma mater and displayed a brick from the old high school that was located across the street at Market and Third streets.
Ecker, Jaimes and Nolan talked about how their lives were changed forever through Deppen’s generosity.
Betz and Barnhart talked about the partnership between Bucknell University, Mount Carmel and Mother Kaupus Center that has enabled 40 community-oriented projects to be undertaken in the past few years.
The Revs. Frank Karwacki and Rose Marquardt offered invocations.
Free food, including hot dogs and pizza, refreshments and entertainment were provided throughout the day. Pie baking and watermelon eating contests were held and old-time games including croquet and bocce ball were played.
Art activities coordinated by Melissa Kilgus of the Department of Art and Art History at Bucknell, were available to children.
Mount Carmel Area High School Band, Our Boys’ Band and After Hours Big Band performed at the gazebo.
At the time of Deppen’s death at age 88, a trust of $1 million was left to send Mount Carmel Area graduates to Bucknell through the Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund in memory of his sister, who graduated from Bucknell in 1902. An additional $1 million was bequeathed to Lankenau Medical Center and he also left money for Mount Carmel Town Park.
Deppen, who graduated from Bucknell University in 1900, was one of the oldest practicing attorneys in Northumberland County at the time of his death, with a law office at 32 N. Hickory St.