Dr. Dan Joseph Honored As Philanthropist, Mentor with J.B. Chambers YMCA Light of the Valley Award in Wheeling
Doctor given ‘Light of the Valley’ award
WHEELING — Dr. Dan Joseph has never worn the black and gold on a football field, but he is a Pittsburgh Steeler in every sense of the word, according to Jim Rooney of the Steelers’ founding family.
On Wednesday, Joseph was presented the Dr. Lee Jones Patron of Youth Award during the J.B. Chambers YMCA’s annual Light of the Valley luncheon at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. The luncheon raised $52,600 for the YMCA to provide children and their families access to the organization’s programs they otherwise could not afford.
Joseph is a Wheeling orthodontist, teacher and mentor of young people. He and his wife, Debbie Vanyo Joseph, are the co-founders of the annual Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta, with proceeds benefiting Easter Seals. Their philanthropic work is overshadowed only by Dan Joseph’s dedication to mentoring young people, especially in the dental and medical fields.
Rooney, grandson of Steelers’ founder Art Rooney and the son of Dan Rooney, was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s program. Rooney’s and Joseph’s families shared similar Pittsburgh roots and a love of the Steelers. Grandparents on both sides of their families resided in adjacent neighborhoods on the North Side of Pittsburgh.
Rooney said Joseph’s contributions to the Wheeling community, mentoring young people and providing college scholarships are just some of the traits that make him deserving of the award.
He said Joseph embodies the Steelers’ creed of brotherly love brought to the black and gold’s locker room by Steeler great Joe Green.
He noted Joseph’s work with his father at West Virginia University, the work he and his wife have done with Easter Seals, with West Liberty University and with the YMCA are examples of why he should be honored.
Joseph’s brother Brian called his brother “humble” when introducing him at the luncheon and went on to list his many accomplishments and dental organizations in an effort to embarrass him.
Joseph turned the tables on his brother during an emotional talk.
“We do a lot together,” he said. “He has expanded my thought process. We are very, very fortunate to have each other.”
Not one to tout his accomplishments, Joseph directed the audience’s attention to others. He thanked the Rev. Darrell Cummings, who gave the invocation, for his work with youth.
He expressed his gratitude to Dr. Thomas L. Thomas for “always being there for me.”
Thomas’ medical practice in Elm Grove included Dr. Donald Hofreuter and the late Dr. Lee Jones, for whom the Light of the Valley award is named. He also said he appreciated the guidance and care shown by Clyde Campbell at WLU after Joseph’s father died.
However, it was clear Joseph believes his best friend and partner in life is his wife, Debbie, whom he called “loyal, dedicated and amazing.” Together they raised four children, including a set of triplets.
“My name is on the award, but Debbie’s fingerprints are all over it,” he said.
Their daughter Kristen Cox, in a video presentation, said her father goes out of his way to help others.
“He is the most selfless person I know,” she said. “If someone had a dental emergency, he would help them even on holidays.”
The family also includes triplets David and Craig Joseph and Annie Bernacki, and three grandchildren.
Joseph said it was his father who taught him to give more than you take. He said life has had its ups and downs while raising an instant family of four children, losing both his father and father-in-law close together and, more recently, the sudden death of Dr. Joe Palmer, a colleague and friend.
However, he said it’s working side by side with his wife to help young people that balances it all out.
Jamie Bordas, president of the Chambers YMCA board of directors, said in light of the recent violence in the country, supporting the YMCA and giving youth a place to go is more important than ever.
“All are welcome here. That’s what makes it a special and great place,” Bordas said.