On September 19, during a reception at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation presented Joel Gaden its John D. Hamilton Community Service Award.
An ROTC graduate of Lehigh University, Gaden served in the U.S. Army Reserves for seven years, before being honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. After completing his military service, he began a successful career in banking and finance in New York City.
In the late 1960s, he, along with his wife, Nancy and their three children, moved to Jamestown. For the next two decades, Gaden served as president of the former Bank of Jamestown and subsequently the then First National Bank.
Since moving to the area, the couple immersed themselves in community service.
Gaden has served as a leader in many community organizations, such as, President of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, chair of the advisory board at the YMCA of Jamestown, Salvation Army and Literacy Volunteer.
For 14 years, Nancy played piano for the residents at Lutheran and was rarely seen without her wagon of instruments, to encourage others to play along. For her efforts, Nancy was presented the Foundation’s Axel W. Carlson Unsung Hero Award in 2003. And although she passed away in 2015, Gaden has continued to serve others.
Today, he serves as a volunteer tax preparer for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County’s VITA Program, a member of the Audit Committee at WCA Foundation, President of the Advisory Board at RSVP and Foster Grandparents at Lutheran, Chair of the Lutheran Foundation and as an Elder on the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown.
Since 1994, the John D. Hamilton Community Service Award has been presented annually to individuals whose dedication, leadership and support further community spirit and enhance the quality of life in the Chautauqua Region.