By Christi Milligan
Francis Biondi, a legal and philanthropic fixture credited with bringing a sophisticated financial district to Wilmington in the mid-1980s, was awarded the Josiah Marvel Cup by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce (DSCC) last week.
The 179th Annual Dinner was held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, and was attended by more than 900 business leaders, elected officials and dignitaries. The Marvel Cup is considered one of the event’s highlights, DSCC’s highest honor given to a Delawarean for outstanding service.
Biondi, called a one-man think tank and mediator, is credited with crafting Delaware’s Financial Center Development Act of 1981. The legislation created more than 30,000 jobs and gave rise to a labor boom that followed the financial crisis of the 1970s.
“He had talent and grit and knowledge and devotion to his community,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney. Gov. Jack Markell called Biondi a leader in the philanthropic world.
Since 1951, the Marvel Cup Award honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community, or society. It was named in honor of Josiah Marvel, the first president of the State Chamber from 1913 to 1914. The identity of the winner is not announced until the event.
Biondi was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1958 and has served as president of the Delaware State Bar Association and Delaware Bar Association. He also served as chairman of the Crime Reduction Task Force, vice chairman of the Delaware Agency to Reduce Crime, and co-chairman of the Commission on Delaware Courts 2000.
He is a former Wilmington City Solicitor, and worked as a senior partner at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell.
“Even though he worked for one of the best firms in Delaware, he came with a corresponding responsibility to give back to the community,” said Delaware Supreme Court Justice Leo Strine.
Biondi retired in 2001, and gave credit to both sides of the legislative aisle, his parents and his wife, Anita, to whom he’s been married for 53 years. Accompanied to the event by his family, Biondi gave a simple thanks and said he had just three words: “Only in Delaware.”