Florence Township honors two individuals for their service to community

Florence Township Mayor Craig Wilkie speaks at an Oct. 5 ceremony at the municipality's recreation football field, where Joseph Pasqualine and Henry Cleveland who were instrumental in the start of the Florence Township Recreation Football Program, were honored for their efforts to the community. Photo Courtesy of Martin Eckert, Jr.

Two Florence Township residents will be forever remembered after the community came together to honor them with special ceremony last month.

On Oct. 5, Florence Township patrons gathered at the municipality’s recreation football field to pay tribute to two individuals, Joseph Pasqualine and Henry Cleveland, who were instrumental in the start of the Florence Township Recreation Football Program (FTRFP).

The two individuals served as longtime coaches and mentors to generations of youths over the span of several decades. Although Cleveland and Pasqualine are deceased, the event still garnered a large turnout of family, friends, former athletes and coaches to acknowledge the legacy of these two men.

Florence Township Recreation Director Martin Eckert, Jr. said the event served as a way to not only honor the duo’s contributions to the community, but acknowledge their legacy and influence on others in the township as well.

“As a recreation department, we have continued to be fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers for our programs,” Eckert said. “Honoring these two special individuals stimulated so much interest from the community because it brought back stories from the past. There were several names mentioned that were heavily involved with recreation, team names like the ‘Mighty Mites,’ winning seasons and the overall sense of community that was present for many years.

“The dedication was a showcase of sorts where families reconnected long after the years where they spent nights and weekends together watching their children play on our fields. There was also a sense of pride at the field as many senior members of our community looked on as young families continued the traditions that were started so long ago,” Eckert stated.

With township officials and residents alike all gathered at the ceremony, Mayor Craig Wilkie spoke at the event where he detailed the backgrounds of the two men.

Cleveland resided across the street from the township municipal complex on Broad Street and served in multiple capacities. Officials said he taught the values of sportsmanship and the fundamentals of various programs that were offered.

Pasqualine was also credited for his efforts with the football program, as well as his efforts to physically design and build the recreation softball field, which is now known as the Susan Muchowski Memorial Softball Field. Several members of the Pasqualine family were in attendance on this special occasion, too.

Officials said that the idea to honor these two individuals began over the past year when recreation football president, Fred Dunphy, and members of the Florence Township Football Association (FTFA) began communicating with the township’s recreation committee and expressed interest in naming the football field after the duo.

Dunphy also explained that during the same time that the football program took off, Naomi Cleveland, Henry’s wife, helped start the recreation cheer program. Dunphy described that it has always been common for families to work together in developing the programs for the kids Even Dunphy’s wife, Gina, continues to serve on the FTFA board as well.

With the support of the committee’s football and cheer liaison, Don Nemeth, and the unanimous approval the Florence Township Council, plans were set to dedicate the field to Pasqualine and Cleveland. The idea to honor these two would be to hang large banners in the end zones at the field along with a permanent sign affixed to the side of the concession stand, which reads, “Welcome to Cleveland-Pasqualine Football Field.”

Both names are printed on the sign along with illustrations of the traditional Florence blue and gold helmet as well as the Florence Mighty Mites powder blue and white helmet.

For Eckert, commemorative efforts like this on behalf of the municipality represent the history of the township as well as the contributions to the community from some of its most notable names.

“I’ve found Florence Township to be such a unique town, and I feel that in many ways, history has repeated itself on our fields,” he said. “The names Cleveland, Pasqualine, Nemeth, Frappolli, Muchowski, Sandusky and many others that were so commonly referred, have now come full circle to this next generation.

“Their families have remained in town and now several of their grandchildren are taking to the fields. It’s a really neat thing to see and experience. So the story continues.”