50 years of service to the borough

The Bronx Ball black tie gala honors individuals who have made an impact on the world stage. But one man, who has worked quietly in a number of different capacities in the borough president’s office from 1957 to this year was given perhaps the highest honor of the night, the Key to the Bronx.

Robert Castellanete, who worked for eight borough presidents from Borough President James Lyons to Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., was honored for more than 50 years of service by Borough President Diaz Jr. at this year’s Bronx Ball at Orchard Beach on Saturday, May 23. He was presented with the first ever Key to the Bronx award by Diaz at the end of the night’s festivities.

The award came as a surprise to the mild mannered Castellanete. He said that he was proud of the borough where he devoted his working life.

“The award was a complete surprise,” Castellanete, who sat at the borough president’s table for the gala, said.

“In the 1950s the borough was great, and then we had some really bad times in the 1960s and 1970s,” Castellanete, known as Bobby C by many of his coworkers and friends, said.

“I don’t think that we fared any worse than other urban areas. In the 1980s we began to come back strong because of great leadership. Under the leadership of Borough Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx will have a great future.”

In his remarks, Castellanete took time out to thank his former boss, Herman Badillo, who he served from 1966 to 1970. Under Badillo, he was an assistant to the Board of Estimate. Badillo was being enshrined into the Walk of Fame. “Robert has shown tremendous dedication and energy,” said former co-worker Robert Nolan, who worked in the borough president’s office for 30 years.

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com.

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