The Shelton Republican Town Committee will hold its annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, April 16, at the Shelton Senior Center, 81 Wheeler St., Shelton.
That evening, Shelton resident Joseph DeFilippo will be presented with the Gov. John Davis Lodge Award in recognition of his many years of service to the City of Shelton and Shelton’s Republican Town Committee. State Rep. Themis Klarides will the be guest speaker.
The John Davis Lodge award has been awarded annually since 1987 to recognize those whoshared John Davis Lodge’s dedication to public service and the ideals America represents.
Joseph DeFilippo has been a lifelong Shelton resident, born in Shelton in 1926, one of seven children. Joe attended Shelton public schools and enlisted in the Navy during WWII, serving in the Pacific. His last assignment after WWII ended was on the USS Missouri.
After the service, Joe was hired by Sikorsky Aircraft and was employed there for 35 years, retiring as a foreman. Following his retirement, he served as a sheriff at the Bridgeport Courthouse for a number of years.
Joe and his late wife, the former Irene Plaskon, were married for 62 years before her passing this past January. Joe and Irene knew each other since childhood, both having grown up in the Coram Gardens area. Their children are Gary and Diana and their grandchildren are Gary, Jr., Christina, Erica and Thomas.
Joe was one of the founders of Shelton’s Biddy Basketball league in the early ‘60s and served as a assistant director for the league for a number of years. He has been a member of the Shelton Parks and Recreation Commission since the late 70s, having been appointed by then-Mayor, Gene Hope. Joe has been a member of the Citizens Advisory Board for over 15 years and currently is a Shelton constable. A member of the Shelton Republican Town Committee for over 40 years, Joe is presently a member of its Steering Committee and is of a valuable assistance to local candidates during campaign season and on Election Day.
Themis Klarides, House Republican Leader and Connecticut State Representative for the 114th District, serving Derby, Orange and Woodbridge, will be the guest speaker at this year’s dinner.
Themis is the first woman named to lead Republicans in Hartford. She first was elected as State Representative for the 114th District in 1998, and was re-elected to her ninth term in November, 2014. She had served as Deputy Leader during 2007-2014.
Gov. John Davis Lodge played many roles during his lifetime, including politician, ambassador, diplomat, lawyer, naval officer and actor. He served with the U. S. Navy as a lieutenant and lieutenant commander during August, 1942 to January, 1946 and was a liaison officer between the French and American fleets. He was decorated with the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor and with the Croix de Guerre with palm by General Charles de Gaulle. After the war he engaged in research work in economics. He retired from the U. S. Navy Reserve in 1966 with the rank of Captain.
Gov. Lodge was elected from Connecticut’s 4th congressional district to the 80th and 81st Congresses, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 3, 1947 to January 3, 1951.
He was elected as Governor of Connecticut, serving from January 1951 to January 1955. During his term as Connecticut’s 62nd Governor, he turned an $11 million state deficit into a $17 million surplus and became well known for the construction of the Connecticut Turnpike.
As Governor, Lodge endorsed legislation that improved unemployment and workmen’s compensation benefits. Lodge headed the New England Committee, the first in our nation to investigate the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Lodge served as United States Ambassador to Spain from January 1955 until January 1961, the longest term of any U.S. ambassador to that country. He then served as National President, Junior Achievement, Inc. during 1963–1964 and chairman, Committee on Foreign Policy Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania during 1964–1969.
During 1969-1973 he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as U. S. Ambassador to Argentina, remaining stalwart in his diplomatic duties through five different government regimes. He was President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Special Ambassador to Puerto Rico during 1942 and to Panama and Costa Rica during 1953 and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, serving from 1983-1985.
John Davis Lodge died in New York City on October 29, 1985 at age 83 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Tickets to the Lincoln-Reagan dinner are $65 per person in advance; $80 per person at the door. For more information or to make a reservation for the dinner, contact Anthony Simonetti, Shelton Republican Town Committee chair at 203-605-7712 or Virginia Harger, Dinner chair at 203-924-0054.