PITTSTON — Joseph P. Keating gave much of his life to the city of Pittston.
Keating, who died Monday, was a firefighter for the city and served as the department’s chief for many years. He was a school board member, magisterial district judge, an aide for former state Sen. Ray Musto and Pittston’s mayor from 2006 to 2009.
“He was a very straightforward and decent man who looked after the city and did a lot of good things,” said Joseph McLean, a current city councilman who also served when Keating was mayor.
One of those things was to help modernize the city’s fire department.
“He just had a way of coming in, sizing up a situation and coming up with a solution,” said McLean. “At end of day, he always had the best interests of the city at heart,” McLean said.
Outside of their political life, McLean also knew Keating as a friend. He recalled a great cook who was like family to him.
“It’s an emotional day,” McLean said when contacted Monday after Keating’s passing was announced. “He was a larger-than-life character here in the city. His resume would probably be the size of a phone book.”
Current Mayor Michael Lombardo has mental images of Keating from almost as far back as he can remember, since his father and Keating are cousins.
Some memories are pleasant, like the image of him standing over the grill at family gatherings or of fishing trips together, two of Keating’s favorite pastimes.
Other memories are not.
Keating was there during Lombardo’s first run as mayor, when a Fourth of July fireworks display went awry, shooting fireworks into buildings. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but it was a challenging time for the young mayor.
“I remember thinking ‘It’s good that Joe is here. There’s someone here I know and trust,’” Lombardo said.
After a life filled with honors in the city, at least one more is planned. Keating was selected to serve as grand marshal for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The recognition will now be posthumous, but will still be another chance to recognize his contributions to a city he loved.
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