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Delaware & Lehigh Corridor Announces Death of Former Executive Director | WDIY Local News

Elissa Garofalo
Contributed photo
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Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
Elissa Garofalo

A local heritage area has announced the passing of its former executive director.

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor recently announced the passing of its former Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo.

In a release the organization said Garofalo, who retired in 2021, passed away on Feb. 15 of this year surrounded by family and close friends. She spent over 20 years with the D&L, holding the position of Executive Director for nine years.

According to her obituary during Garofalo’s tenure, 132 miles of the D&L Trail were completed, and major connections were established along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers through the historic canals via the trail.

These included the Mansion House Bridge in Jim Thorpe, projects connecting the Delaware Canal section through Bucks County, and a merger to save the National Canal Museum and Josiah White III Canal Boat in Easton. The museum merger also contributed to the D&L becoming the first National Heritage Area which is also a Smithsonian Affiliate.

The corridor said Garofalo was a key advocate behind connecting the 165-mile trail, which stretches across five counties, to preserve and celebrate the industrial history of eastern Pennsylvania. It also described her as a “visionary” for multiple revitalization programs. Garofalo also helped organize the “Get Your Tail on the Trail” program, in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.

A section of the D&L Trail between mile markers 105 and 106, at the Mansion House Bridge, was named “Elissa’s Mile” in recognition of her contributions, and marks the bridge as one of her cherished places on the trail.

In a statement, Board Chairperson Andrew Hamilton called Garofalo a “true champion of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol and every point in between.

“She was a guiding light and dedicated her life to creating connections, from connecting people to the anthracite history to people and their environment throughout the region and beyond. Elissa’s contributions to the organization, towns along the corridor and region wide will be deeply missed by many.

“Her tireless efforts to preserve and promote the region’s natural and cultural resources have left a lasting legacy, and we are all grateful for the impact she had on our organization and the wonderful and diverse community of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.”

(Original air-date: 3/2/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.