Moon Park gets a "Joe DeNardo Way," to honor the longtime, high-profile meteorologist for WTAE-TV, KDKA-TV, KDKA radio and the U.S. Air Force, photographed above with the street sign.
By Linda Wilson Fuoco Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A street sign in Moon Park used to say "Moon Park Access Road." Now, black letters on a white sign spell out "Joe DeNardo Way."
"I don't know where that came from. It certainly wasn't my idea, but I was totally blown away when I heard about it," said the longtime, high-profile meteorologist for WTAE-TV, KDKA-TV, KDKA radio and the U.S. Air Force.
The new DeNardo street sign was unveiled at the Nov. 19 supervisor's meeting.
Mr. DeNardo has been a Moon resident for nearly 60 years. He and his wife, Delores, (who died in 2009) moved there in 1955 when a career in television wasn't even a blip on his personal radar.
Though his televised weather forecasts have made him an area-wide celebrity, he is also well known for work with nonprofit organizations including Special Olympics and Project Bundle-Up, which provides cold-weather garb for the needy. Volunteer work in his own community was not as well known.
In 1963, Moon supervisors formed a Parks and Recreation Board and asked him to serve as chairman.
At that time "Moon had absolutely nothing" in the way of recreation facilities and programs, recalls Mr. DeNardo, 82. In the 24 years he served as a member and chairman of the board, residents would see the acquisition and development of Moon Park and Robin Hill Park.
The board also developed a master plan for parks and recreation programs in the western suburb.
"I did not do it for recognition," Mr. DeNardo said. "I live in this community and I wanted to give back. It was actually quite satisfying."
Recreation was a good fit for a man who describes himself as "an avid sports fan."
Born and raised in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Mr. DeNardo played basketball in high school.
He says he still enjoys playing a lot of golf and bit of tennis.
He did not grow up wanting to be a meteorologist or a broadcaster.
Going to Duquesne University during the Korean War, he signed up for ROTC -- Reserve Officer Training Corps -- while majoring in math and physics.
Toward the end of his academic career, "I went to my commandant and asked him what the Air Force would do with me for two years after I graduated. He said I would be a supply officer."
The young Mr. DeNardo thought that sounded deadly dull, but the officer suggested that with a background in math and physic he should consider studying to become a meteorologist.
The Air Force would pay, but then Mr. DeNardo would owe the government four years of service.
Mr. DeNardo and 26 young officers attended the graduate school program in meteorology at the University of Chicago in 1952 and 1953.
From 1953 to 1956 he served as a commander in the USAF Weather Detachment, Greater Pittsburgh Air Force Base.
From 1956 through 1979, he and an Air Force buddy, David G. McFarland, operated DeNardo & McFarland Weather Services. Their clients include major corporations, private aviation services and utility companies.
Then in 1957 "on behalf of our company I answered a blind ad in the Pittsburgh Press for a meteorologist. It happened to be for KDKA radio," Mr. DeNardo said.
That led to on-air forecasts at KDKA-TV from 1960 to 1969, followed by WTAE-TV from 1969 through Jan. 1, 2005.
On-air appearances for charity fundraisers continued after the retirement.
During his career, the science -- and accuracy -- of meteorology improved dramatically, Mr. DeNardo said.
"Only God can predict with 100 percent accuracy, and I don't have a direct line to him. But I don't think I was wrong that much."
In fact, his name will undoubtedly forever be linked to the "Joe Said It Would" advertising campaign launched by WTAE in 1994 after Mr. DeNardo accurately predicted that a monster snow storm would hit Pittsburgh.
Mr. DeNardo is still doing daily weather forecasts from his home in Moon. It's just for fun and just for himself and for friends who ask.
How good are those forecasts?
"They're outstanding," Mr. DeNardo says with a good-natured chuckle.