The purpose of the Joseph C. Donchess Distinguished Service Award is to provide recognition and expression of appreciation for unselfish and dedicated service to the School, as well as business success, professional attainment, or service to the community which reflects on Wyoming Seminary.
The recipients of the Award shall be known for outstanding accomplishment in one or more fields that bring honor to Wyoming Seminary through personal identity with the School, or shall have demonstrated dedicated leadership or service to Wyoming Seminary either by a single important act or an extensive record of participation in the life of the School. The Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Board of Trustees of Wyoming Seminary on behalf of everyone associated with the school. It also expresses appreciation for the life and example, the sacrifices and devotion of those who are so honored.
Awarded since the fall of 1972, the Distinguished Service Award was renamed in May of 2000 to reflect the school’s admiration for and appreciation of Dr. Joseph C. Donchess ’26.
ABOUT JOSEPH C. DONCHESS
After completing sixth grade, Joe Donchess left his public school in Youngstown, Ohio to work as an electrician. He came to Wyoming Seminary when a friend convinced him to return to school and enroll at Sem. As a ninth-grader with a sixth-grade education, Donchess was initially intimidated by Sem’s well-qualified students, but he persevered. Working in the school’s laundry to pay expenses, he excelled on the football field and found success in the classroom. Donchess went on to the University of Pittsburgh where he was the epitome of the scholar-athlete, elected to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame and accepted into Pitt’s Medical School. He later joined the U. S. Steel Corporation and was named Chief Surgeon only eight years later.
Donchess never forgot Wyoming Seminary, the school that changed his life. In 1959 he established the Quay-Adams Award in honor of his football coaches and mentors in the dorm and classroom. And Wyoming Seminary never forgot him either. In 1973, Joe Donchess was in the second group of recipients of the Distinguished Service Award, Wyoming Seminary’s highest honor.