Over the years, certain family names have held a deep and immediate association with Delaware. There is du Pont, of course, and Biden. But today, when one thinks of the First State, there’s little question that few families are making a greater impact than the Buccinis.
The Buccinis are prominent business leaders, builders and developers whose investments have transformed the City of Wilmington and areas across the state. However, the family was honored by Catholic Charities on Thursday night not for another great building project, but for their deep “lifelong commitment to community service.”
Recognized with the prestigious Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Service Award, family matriarch Bernadette Buccini accepted the honor reflecting on her upbringing in St. Anthony’s Parish, noting that her Italian immigrant parents and the school priests and nuns guided her to live a life focused on “faith, family and community.” She was joined at the Chase Center dinner by her husband D. Robert, and sons Rob and Chris.
Dozens of community leaders, business executives and public officials – 350 guests in all — filled the ballroom for the event officiated by Bishop Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington.
In honoring the family, several speakers noted the Buccini’s contributions to the Wilmington community stretched back to 1945, with the founding of the Edward J. De Seta Company, by Bernadette’s father. Bernadette and D. Robert have together led the family business since Mr. De Seta’s passing in 1967, and today is one of the largest heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors in the Mid-Atlantic.
Their sons Rob and Chris’s real estate investment and development company, The Buccini/Pollin Group, owns the Hotel Dupont, the WSFS Bank Center, IM Pei Building and the Queen Theatre, among other holdings, and they are credited with spearheading development efforts along the Wilmington Riverfront.
Their community involvement includes service on multiple boards and organizations including the Ministry of Caring, Padua Academy, the Grand Opera House, St. Francis Hospital, the Wilmington Housing Partnership, Hagley Museum and the Brandywine Conservancy.
Former city councilman and Buccini/Pollin executive Michael Hare remarked on the family’s remarkable work ethic.
“I think it’s that work ethic that has transcended this entire family and been an example for Rob and Chris. They are so committed not only committed to St. Anthony’s, Padua, St. Francis Hospital, the Ministry of Caring, but also for the people who work for them,” said Hare.
“I think the example Bernadette and Robert set for their sons is one of believe in work, believe in family, believe in community all guided by faith. They have a deep and abiding faith.”
Bernadette Buccini said she was proud of her sons and their continued effort to revitalize the city of Wilmington, acknowledging that the award was unexpected. “This is a bit out of our comfort level. My mother would not be happy with me drawing so much attention to our family. It is not how we were raised,” she said. She said she has tried to lead their lives around the ideals of the Catholic faith.
She went on to say that prayer has always gotten her family through the toughest times, and there have been many. “So as our family receives this recognition tonight, with great humility, I remind all of you to continue to pray, serve and smile.”