The following obituary was taken from The Daily Times by Bette Alburger:
MIDDLETOWN — John D. Vairo of Middletown, founding campus executive officer of Penn State Brandywine, for whom its library is named, died Jan. 1 at home, after a yearlong battle with esophageal cancer. He was 91 years old.Born in Felitto, Italy, Vairo came to the United States as an infant.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in navigation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, New York; a bachelor of arts degree in American history from Syracuse University; and a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Penn State University.
A World War II veteran, he was a U.S. Navy navigator during the war and was discharged as a lieutenant junior grade.
In the 1950s, Vairo was editor of the Jersey Shore Herald and the Lehighton Evening Leader, both in Pennsylvania. He also was news bureau manager for the Corning Leader in Corning, New York; circulation manager for the Milton Evening Standard in Milton, Pa.; and county editor for the Clinton County Times in Lock Haven.
From 1956 to 1967, he was an associate professor of journalism at Penn State’s University Park campus and was advisor to the Daily Collegian campus newspaper.
In 1967, he was chosen by Penn State’s board of trustees and then-president Eric Walker to establish a campus in Delaware County and to serve as its executive officer. What began in a former fish market in Chester as Penn State Delaware County with 236 students is now Penn State Brandywine on 90 acres in Middletown, with 1,600 students. Vairo retired in 1986 as campus executive officer.
In 1995, the campus library was named the John D. Vairo Library in his honor. The John D. Vairo Library Endowment Fund also was established in his honor to raise funds for the library. Further, the John D. and Greta C. Vairo Scholarship provides financial aid to campus students who continue their education at University Park.
While employed at the University Park campus, Vairo was instrumental in founding three planning commissions in the area and was chairman of all three. He also was a member of the Pennsylvania Planning Association. Vairo Boulevard in State College was named in his honor for his work as a municipal planner.
Active in Middletown, where he lived for the past 45 years, Vairo was chairman of the township’s tricentennial committee in 1986. He also served on the township planning commission and the fire apparatus committee. In addition, he was a charter member and two-time president of the Middletown Township Business and Professional Association.
Active also in the wider community, Vairo was a member of the advisory board for the LINC program at Neumann University and served on its physical therapy committee. A member of the Media Rotary Club since 1971, he was a past president. He also was past president of the Media Rotary Foundation, chair of the information committee and the adult literacy program.
He was a member of the Delaware County Literacy Council, the Delaware County Heritage Commission, the county Chamber of Commerce and the county Torch Club. He was chairman of the board of the Greater Delaware County Chapter of the American Red Cross and was on the boards of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, Tyler Arboretum and the Delaware County Library System. He also was an honorary board member of Rose Tree Media District’s Healthy Communities Initiative.
Additionally, he was a member of the board of managers of the Central Delaware County YMCA and was instrumental in raising funds for the Rocky Run YMCA in Middletown. He also served on many committees of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in the Lenni area of Middletown, where he was a 44-year member.
Among his many honors was the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award and the Friend of the Community Award from Congregation Beth Israel, Media. He also was recognized by Columbia University as one of Pennsylvania’s top 50 people who helped secondary and post-secondary schools improve their school newspapers.
He was a member of numerous professional organizations, such as Kappa Tau honorary journalism society, Pi Gamma Mu social science honorary, the Pennsylvania School Press Association, Penn State Alumni Association, Delaware County Press Club and Four Chaplains Legion of Honor.
Vairo enjoyed traveling, especially to Italy and Switzerland, playing several musical instruments and doing yard work.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Greta, who died in 2009.
He is survived by daughters, Annina (Al) Neffgen of Lake Lure, North Carolina; Christine (Tim) Weiss of Statesville, North Carolina; and Priscilla Archambo-Vairo of Middletown; son, Carl (Cindy) Vairo of Middletown; nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation is 6-8 p.m. Wednesday and 9-10 a.m. Thursday at Minshall Shropshire Bleyler Funeral Home, 608 South Old Middletown Road, Middletown. Funeral mass is 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, 35 New Road, Lenni. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Penn State Brandywine, Office of Development, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063, or to Heartland Hospice, 5 Christy Drive, Chadds Ford, PA 19317.