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World War II Vet Recognized for Commitment to YMCA

Livingston's Kenneth DeGhetto, 90, received the 2013 Lay Person of the Year Award.

Livingston resident Kenneth DeGhetto receives award from Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab. (Contributed photo)
Livingston resident Kenneth DeGhetto receives award from Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab. (Contributed photo)
The following was submitted by the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges:

A 90-year-old World War II veteran who learned to swim at a YMCA in the 1930s has been honored for his longstanding generosity and commitment to the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges.

Kenneth DeGhetto, of Livingston, received the 2013 Lay Person of the Year Award for his embodiment of the YMCA’s commitment to social responsibility. DeGhetto was honored at the April 3 annual meeting of the Metro YMCA—the largest organization of YMCAs in New Jersey serving more than 35,000 people at six branches.

The retired chairman of the global corporation Foster Wheeler has been fundraising and spreading the word about the Metro YMCA’s good works and donating to the East Orange and West Essex branches since joining its board of directors in 2003.

“His personal generosity is beyond compare, and his business and management acumen are an asset to the organization’s leadership,’’ Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab said. 

Thanks to DeGhetto’s efforts, the Rotary Club of Livingston Foundation named the Metro YMCA its 2013 Citizen of the Year, Gorab noted.

DeGhetto’s ties to the YMCA go back to his childhood in Clifton. In the early 1930s, he learned how to swim at the Passaic Y and went on to become a Y swim instructor.

Out of high school, he attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y and then served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he competed on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s varsity swim team while earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He went on to earn a doctorate degree and then rose to top leadership at Foster Wheeler.

DeGhetto and his wife of nearly 70 years, Helen, are the 2014 sponsors of the Metro YMCA SPLASH water-safety program. SPLASH (Swim, Play and Learn Aquatic Safety Habits) is offered for free to children at all six branches.

The Metro YMCA in 2011 created the Kenneth A. DeGhetto Champion’s Cup to honor his support of its Annual Kids Care Golf Tournament.

“The award is given annually to someone who, like Ken, demonstrates a spirit of generosity, sportsmanship, and unwavering support of the YMCA mission of strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,’’ Gorab said. “He is a true champion of kids.’’

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