Angela O’Neil awarded Digby's Joe Casey Humanitarian award

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on June 28, 2014

Angela O’Neil has received the 2014 Joe Casey Humanitarian Award.

The retired school teacher moved to Digby in 1975 and has been an active volunteer for all of those 39 years said Gail Hersey, president of the Admiral Digby Library and Historical Society who nominated O’Neil.

O’Neil received the award from Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland on Friday, June 27 at an outdoor ceremony on the Digby waterfront at Digby Centre behind the cenotaph, where a plaque commemorates Casey and his contribution to Digby.

 “When a person volunteers to do community work and take part in community organizations the farthest thing from their mind is a reward, they do it because they believe in the cause,” said O’Neil. “I am no different but I must say I am honoured to be receiving this award today; honoured especially for whom this award commemorates.”

Casey was the MLA for Digby when O’Neil moved here and she said he served the people of Digby with care and dedication.

“He was a bit like Hank Snow – he was everywhere,” she said. “Everywhere you went Joe was there smiling or consoling. He was indeed a community-minded person and proud of our rich history and culture and never failed to stress Digby’s potential both at home and abroad.”

The historical society included with their nomination papers a long list of O’Neil’s contributions.

She has given 30 years of service to the museum itself, and sat on numerous boards including those of Digby Pre School Co-op, the Admiral Digby Horticultural Society, the

Digby County Federation of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Federation of Heritage, the Digby Board of Trade and the Maud Lewis Arts Society, the Digby and Area Theatre Society.

She continues to serve with the Digby and Area Health Services Charitable Foundation and the Digby and Area Senior Safety Society.

She has sat on committees for Digby County 4-H and Sailabration.

She has participated with the North Range Art group, the Digby Quilt Guild and the Seaside Strippers quilt group.

O’Neil has also volunteered with horticultural flower paintings in Digby, at Digby horticultural flower shows, at Digby art shows and outdoor painting events, with the Digby Elementary breakfast program, as a judge at 4-H public speaking and demonstration competitions, at the Maud Lewis flower show and for the Heart and Stroke Big Bike Ride.

O’Neil says she simply followed in the footsteps of the many volunteers she saw when she first arrived here.

“I soon found mentors in Digby whom I looked up to for their service to the community,” she said.

O’Neil pointed out the special contributions and influence of Louise Warne and Marjorie Tupper.

“These two ladies got me started in the museum and the garden club and it was by their example of giving back to the community that kept me going,” she said.

The Casey family Linda, Mike, Duncan and Vera were in attendance as they had been for all three of the previous annual presentations.

Vera should be 96 this year but told Mayor Cleveland after 95, one doesn’t have birthdays anymore.

The Joe Casey Humanitarian Award is handed out annually to a resident who has made a significant contribution to the betterment of the town. Joe Casey was the MLA for Digby—Annapolis from 1970 to 1984 and from 1988 to 1997.

He took great pride in representing and assisting his constituents; political partisanship always took a back seat when it came to the concerns of his constituents.

He sold fish, he was in the navy, he worked as a harbour pilot in the Bay of Fundy, he operated several fish plants, he operated an hotel and cottages, he was a motivational speaker and a cruise ship raconteur and, of course, he was a politician.