Rotarian of the Month: Anthony Villano

Tony first became involved with Rotary in 1990 while a science teacher at Fair Lawn High School. In thirty years of Rotary service, one can hardly find a responsibility for which Tony hasn’t rolled up his sleeves. By way of example, Tony has served as President, Vice President, and Treasurer — for two different clubs. He’s been recognized as Rotarian of the Year, and has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship and the Walter D. Head Fellowship.

Tony’s accomplishments in Rotary are too numerous to list, but just a few highlights include: successful grant writing for handicapped accessible playground equipment in Fair Lawn and a global grant for classroom equipment to an earthquake-torn village in Nepal; creating and chairing our semi-annual food drive programs; creating Adult Continuing Education scholarships; helping to secure the charter for the Fair Lawn High School Interact Club; creating and co-chairing the Service Above Self Award gala; serving as liaison to the Fair Lawn ADA Advisory Committee; and serving as a founding Trustee and the first Treasurer of the new Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary Foundation.

Asked about his motivation, Tony explained, “I grew up in a family that considered community service as a way of life. As a child, I watched our family members making bandages and care packages for our military in battle zones; and I saw them either in uniform, in politics, on civic committees or in service organizations. It had been a given that I would try to be a part of something and offer my help. I found Rotary to be a club at which you check your ego at the door; where no one uses their title since everyone is afforded equal respect; where ideas like ‘Service Above Self’ are taken seriously. When I learned about and began to embrace the Four Way Test in my everyday life, I discovered a better me was both possible and preferable. I am humbled and grateful for what I have gained by being part of Rotary, and, in particular, the Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary.”

Tony’s commitment to Service Above Self is evident in all he does. Tony has served on the Pastoral Council at St. Anne’s Parish, and for the last sixteen years has delivered baked goods each week from local bakeries to Eva’s Kitchen and the Fr. English Center in Paterson. As former head coach of the FLHS Boy’s Bowling Team, Tony created the popular “Soup Frame” Challenge which resulted in donations of more than 5,000 non-perishable items to local food pantries.

Tony has been a committee member, adult leader, merit badge counselor and Eagle Scout mentor for Boy Scout Troop 60 and Cub Pack 217. He assists the KofC on efforts which include the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities. As a blood donor, Tony is in the “ten-gallon club.”

Tony has lived in Fair Lawn since 1999. Prior to his recent retirement, he had worked for the Fair Lawn school system for fifty-one years.