Touching people's lives, even in ways that aren't easily evident, is the overwhelming takeaway Frank Di Tillo has from his position at the United Way.

One of Frank Di Tillo's most anticipated duties every year as Executive Director of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area was to go to an area school to pass out free movie tickets to students that made a positive contribution to the United Way's annual fundraising campaign.

Last year, at Oakwood Elementary in Hannibal, Di Tillo asked the movie ticket recipient what motivated her to participate in the United Way

“She told me, 'Well, you helped my big sister.' And I looked closer at her name,” Di Tillo remembered, “and realized her big sister was a client of Learning Opportunities. Her sister came into the United Way office to clean and I got to know her that way.

“That's a memory I'll keep with me forever.”

Touching people's lives, even in ways that aren't easily evident, is the overwhelming takeaway Di Tillo has from his position at the United Way. He has plenty of positive memories to look back upon once he retires from his position in a few short months. The agency, which serves five Northeast Missouri counties, announced Di Tillo's retirement on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Di Tillo joined the United Way board on the allocation committee in 2010. Not long after, he was named the Executive Director, succeeding longtime Executive Director Lou Lemen.

“The opportunity to impact so many lives was something I couldn't pass up,” Di Tillo said.

Prior to the United Way, he worked for 40 years in the banking industry. He enjoyed seeing the successes of people through his career in personal and commercial lending, and sought to keep impacting people.

“It was the realization of touching so many lives,” he said. “To truly to know that you're helping improve the quality of life of someone in serious need of help is a blessing.”

The United Way allocates funds yearly to almost two dozen area agencies and organizations, impacting even more programs. Funding provided through the United Way touches approximately one in three people in Northeast Missouri — some 22,000 people.

Agencies that are beneficiaries of United Way funding include AVENUES, Hannibal Free Clinic, Douglass Community Services, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, the Paris Seniors Center, the Salvation Army, the Monroe City Student Success Center and more.

Di Tillo has gotten to know all of these agencies well, visiting their leaders to discuss funding needs and experiencing how programs positively impact the lives of participants. He's spent countless hours driving all over Northeast Missouri visiting these agencies.

As for how he'll spend his retirement?

“I told the board, 'I'll send you a postcard from Florida in February',” he said jokingly.

He said he intends to remain active in the community and will spend more time with his grandchildren.

A search committee has been established under the direction of Board President Joel Dant and a proposed timeline has been approved.

Di Tillo hopes his successor will be selected prior to the allocation of funds, which takes place at the end of February.

“It has been an honor and a great pleasure to serve as the executive director of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area,” Di Tillo saidd. “The experience warms the heart; it is remarkable in its impact.” 

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .