Hard work, selfless attitude made this gent a hero

More than a decade of dedicated community service has earned Tony Marino, 35-year Claremont resident and volunteer, a special spot amid the whirling and twirling extravaganza at the 90th annual LA County Fair.

Mr. Marino will be honored as one of 3 Claremont community heroes at this year’s Claremont Day Celebration, taking place on Thursday, September 20. Mr. Marino, along with the 2 other Claremont heroes, will be guest-of-honor at a celebratory luncheon, distinguished in a special Claremont parade and then recognized during an award ceremony. The Claremont police aide and all-around serviceman finds it hard to believe all the fanfare.

“It was a real shock, but I am very appreciative,” Mr. Marino said of the unexpected distinction. “Hopefully I’m deserving of it. I’m not used to talking about myself.”

His selfless attitude is just one thing that makes this Claremont man stand out, according to Claremont Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali, who nominated Mr. Marino as a community hero. Mr. Nasiali says his next-door-neighbor immediately came to mind for the honor.

“He is a great guy and community servant in so many ways,” Mr. Nasiali said of Mr. Marino, who is not only involved with the Claremont PD’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Meals on Wheels, but also volunteers at his church, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Claremont. Mr. Nasiali noted that, though Mr. Marino is quiet about his service, his dedication speaks for itself.

In true humble spirit, Mr. Marino attributes his do-unto-others attitude to his wife.

“My wife is deserving of a lot of what I do. I am inspired by watching her work and volunteer,” Mr. Marino said of his companion for the last 56 years. “She has always been my inspiration.”

The Claremont couple became involved in community service together, after being profoundly affected by the tragic events of 9/11. Mr. and Mrs. Marino were on their way back from North Carolina when the towers fell. Stuck in Nashville, Tenn., they had to travel by rental car the rest of the way home.

“We were pretty well shook up,” Mr. Marino said. “We both decided that when we got back home, we would do something to get involved and help other people.”

The Marinos stayed true to that promise, beginning service with Meals on Wheels. The couple shared the same route for 5 years, home-delivering meals to those in need. Catching the “service bug,” Mr. Marino became involved with RSVP in 2006. He continues service as a police aide, helping in any area he is needed, whether it be with the Vacation House Check program or assisting the city’s DUI checkpoints and more.

“There have been times when he has gone out the door with his dinner in his hands…he never turns down an opportunity to help,” Ms. Marino said, admitting her pride. That level of dedication is simply part of the job, Mr. Marino responds nonchalantly.

“I thoroughly enjoy helping others,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to me. I just feel good about it.”

Though still in shock over his newest honor, Mr. Marino is pleased to be able to share the accolade with his family. His daughters and grandchildren will be present at the ceremony to cheer him on. He looks forward to sharing the day in his favorite capacity—as father and grandfather. As to what the day at the Fair will hold for Mr. Marino and his family?

“I’ll let the girls decide,” he smiled.  

—Beth Hartnett



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