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Youth Services System Honors Tom Burgoyne as 2021 ‘Good Samaritan’

Photo by Joselyn King Former Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne, left, duets with Robert Gaudio on an offering of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” after receiving the 2021 “Good Samaritan” award from Youth Services System Thursday night.

WHEELING — Former Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne was recognized Thursday for being a law enforcement agent who often mentored and encouraged those he previously arrested.

Burgoyne was presented with Youth Services System 2021 “Good Samaritan” award during a dinner and ceremony taking place Thursday outside at the Wheeling Park ice rink amid COVID-19 concerns.

Burgoyne became emotional after watching a lengthy video presentation, during which many people spoke of how he affected their lives for the better. At least two of those in the video were disadvantaged youths he mentored who grew up to achieve professional careers.

“It’s hard to react to those comments,” Burgoyne said following the ceremony. “Somebody is recapping your life, and some of those things you had forgotten about until they were brought to the surface again.

“I am truly honored to be selected for this honor. There are so many people who should be selected.”

He said he has worked with YSS for many years and understands what they do.

“They truly are an army for the downtrodden,” Burgoyne said.

A Boston native, Burgoyne worked as an FBI agent in Wheeling before being elected Ohio County Sheriff in 2000. He would serve two four-year terms.

It was said during the video presentation that one might not have expected Burgoyne to “fit in” with the people of the Ohio Valley.

But he did so right away because of his desire to mentor youth and coach anyone who needed direction.

His daughters Erin Reisenweber and Beth Amico were present for the event Thursday night. His son Tommy, however, was not able to attend because of work obligations and watched the ceremony online.

Amico said she remembered as a child her father telling them that if a collect call ever came to the house from the Ohio County Jail, to accept the charges.

He often would give those he arrested his phone number, and told them to call if they ever needed guidance and direction.

She also recounted how one Thanksgiving week one of Burgoyne’s investigations had come to trial, and a woman who had come to Wheeling to testify had nowhere to go for the holiday. He invited the stranger to their home for Thanksgiving.

On the Burgoyne table Thursday night were sunflowers, which were a nod to the favorite flower of Burgoyne’s late wife, Kathy.

“I know she is looking down,” Reisenweber said. “And he would say the reason he has been able to do what he has done was because of her.”

Burgoyne said he learned his caring virtues from his parents.

“I just think more people need to think more about other people,” he said.

Burgoyne was introduced at the podium Thursday night by Wheeling Central Catholic High School football coach Mike Young.

Near the end of the event, Burgoyne and attorney Robert Gaudio — also a musician — combined for a rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” that left those in attendance smiling.

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