On Tuesday, January 26, Eletto, who graduated with honors from Farragut and served in both the Army and the Navy, was awarded with the 2015 Citizen of the Year award from the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce for his work in the community that encompasses Riverview, Brandon, Apollo Beach and Ruskin.
There was a moment – a brief one that lasted over the course of a five-mile walk – when Joe Eletto ’64 doubted if Admiral Farragut Academy was the place for him.
“It was the first time being away from home,” said Eletto, who had spent most of his childhood days in Orlando with his family. “I walked all the way to the area where Bay Pines Hospital is now and I had a conversation with my uncle, Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim was an old Navy chief and I thought he would side with me. I remember yelling, ‘I can’t take it anymore. I hate being at Farragut.’ He just looked at me and said firmly, ‘What are you talking about? Go back. You are going to love it.’”
Eletto did return and he graduated with honors, eventually serving in both the Army and the Navy. After receiving a degree from the University of Central Florida, Eletto eventually landed a career at Sears, where he would spend the next 30 years of his life working both in Chicago and Orlando.
On Tuesday, January 26, Eletto, who now lives in Apollo Beach in nearby Hillsborough County, was awarded with the 2015 Citizen of the Year award from the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce for his work in the community that encompasses Riverview, Brandon, Apollo Beach and Ruskin.
“I’m very grateful but this is not just about me, this is about what the entire chamber does for the community,” said Eletto, who joined the chamber in 2004 and has served on the board of directors for seven years. “We love this community and are proud to serve it and do things for it to be a great place to live.”
In fact, Riverview was voted as one of the top 100 best small cities in the United States to live in, according to CNNMoney, a service of CNN, Fortune and Money magazines that ranks towns based on several criteria including quality of schools, the affordability of homes, the availability of jobs, and the quality of life factors.
Some of the functions Eletto has been a part of include the annual Trick or Treat Street – which typically attracts around 10,000 parents and children to Riverview High School to celebrate Halloween – and the new teacher breakfast – which recently provided breakfast (along with new school supplies) to 350 new teachers, assistant principals and principals in the area schools.
“It’s vital to show appreciation to the people who live in your community,” said Eletto, who is a past president of the chamber. “The positive vibe that is generated allows the community to grow in a beneficial way.”
Eletto attributes much of his success and his civic generosity to his days at Farragut.
“I hold a lot of my success to my time at Farragut,” said Eletto, who was voted Ambassador of the Year by the chamber in 2008, 2010 and 2012. “The discipline, hard work, respect you learn there helps you as you move on through life. I have and will always be grateful to my mom for having made the decision to send me to Farragut.”
And partly, Uncle Jim.