Biondo, who helped straighten out veteran services in Butler County, dies at 82

Former Butler County Veterans Service Commission President Danny Biondo, who is remembered as one of the people who helped change the toxic culture that once overshadowed the commission tasked with helping about 26,000 veterans, died Feb. 3. He was 82.

Biondo was laid to rest Monday at Rose Hill Burial Park in Hamilton. His wife, Nancy, told the Journal-News he was in the hospital for three weeks but he died at home as was his wish.

“He was bad sick but I had no idea he would die on me,” she said. “He was just so peaceful yesterday that’s what I think about, I think about how good a man he was. And he loved the veterans, he loved the veterans, he did whatever he could.”

Biondo served in the Army from 1961-1964 and for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years. He was a lifetime member of AMVETS Post 1983 and served as commander four times.

BCVSC Executive Director Mike Farmer is also a past commander of the AMVETS post and he said Biondo was his mentor.

“Danny kind of took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, he was always the first person I would call and I knew he would pick up if I had a question on what was going on, or procedurally what was next,” Farmer said. “Danny didn’t know a stranger, he was always the first one to help, whether it was a citizen in need or a veteran.”

Biondo served nine years on the vet board, until in-fighting and strife on the board prompted the Butler County Common Pleas Court judges — all of them made veterans commission appointments back then — decided to make a change in 2014.

Biondo and former Commissioner Bob Perry tried several times to oust former Executive Director Curt McPherson after complaints about his bullying, alleged racial slurs and other accusations were raised by Chief Service Office Matt Jones and other employees. The other three commissioners who sat on the board then staunchly backed McPherson. After a lawsuit over the racial slurs was threatened, McPherson announced his retirement.

The current board has all new members who work together as one and have increased the number of veterans served from 4,808 in 2013 to 6,673 in pre-pandemic 2019. Even last year, when no in-person appointments could be held with veterans due to the coronavirus, the board served 5,792 vets.

“I guess we did shake it up enough to get the judge to look at it a little better, I’m glad of that,” Perry said. “I think they are doing quite well now.”

Farmer joined the vet board right after Biondo left but he said employees have told him how supportive Biondo was of them during the dark days.

“It was a horrible time and Matt told me Danny Biondo was his rock during that time,” Farmer said. “And that he did his service to the staff during that time, when it was extremely dysfunctional here, is what kept Matt here and the place alive.”

Commissioner Bruce Jones said Biondo was a “heck of a nice guy” and while he did not serve with either Biondo or Perry, both of them pushed him to want to serve on the board.

“They definitely I think had a big influence on me, on how I approached becoming a commissioner,” Jones said.

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