April 19, 2024

Townie “Tony” DeJesus Retires from 45 Years at Big Blue Bug

Still hosts a weekly radio show on pest control on WPRO. DeJesus one of the best pest control experts in the nation


If you travel on Interstate Route 95 through Rhode Island, you are probably familiar with the “Big Blue Bug on the highway.” East Providence High graduate Anthony “Tony” DeJesus has just retired from Big Blue Bug Solutions after a 45-year career with the company. DeJesus, or DJ as long-time friends call him, started as a service specialist in 1977 and worked his way up through the company becoming Vice-President. In the 1990s, he was at the forefront of promoting the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), speaking on the topic throughout the country. At the same time, DeJesus began hosting an award-winning radio show on WPRO which has now lasted some 30 years. Weekly on Saturday mornings he answers pest control questions from listeners throughout Southern New England. DeJesus was a guest speaker at National Pest Management Conferences in Dallas, Atlantic City, New York, and Boston. He is also the Trainer for the Rhode Island Department of Health Food Inspectors. He was also called upon to conduct training courses for the R.I. Departmen of Environmental Management Pest Control Licensing and spoke to many students about insects and the environment.

A 1970 graduate of EPHS, he fondly remembers his alma mater. “I lettered in Track and Cross Country and enjoyed attending football and basketball games. My favorite teachers were Henry Rustigan and Adrian Plante,” said DeJesus. “Once a Townie always a Townie,” he smiled.

According to a company news release, “Tony’s bubbly upbeat personality, along with his wealth of pest control knowledge, left quite a mark on the business, the industry and his community. “We never knew if Tony was a broadcaster or a Bug Guy. He was just so good at both!” said Stephan Goldman, owner of Big Blue Bug Solutions. “His impact on the community was enormous. Not only through the radio show but also through his charitable endeavors.” In December 1992, DeJesus happened to have a few extra Christmas gifts around the holidays. With his father’s long-term commitment to the military, he thought it might be nice to drop these gifts off at the Rhode Island Veterans Home. The veterans were blown away by his generosity. After seeing the response to these surprise gifts, Tony knew this would become an annual tradition.

Along with help from Big Blue Bug Solutions, he began Operation ROVAC (Remember Our Veterans At Christmas). Each year, DeJesus and his colleagues deliver gifts to the Veterans Home. It began as small amounts, but over the years, it has grown substantially. Now, with contributions from organizations throughout the area, gifts by the truckload are brought to the Veteran’s home every December. It has become the largest donation to the Rhode Island Veterans Home throughout the year. “I’m most proud of how that came about,” DeJesus told the Reporter. Now, along with his life-long friend and fellow Townie graduate Steven Perry EP ’73, of the local Knights of Columbus, the ROVAC tradition continues. "The community provides the gifts, and we do the delivering. Gifts can be given by individuals or organizations. In the past, we have had support from schools, civic organizations, and religious groups. The outpouring of support has been inspiring. Too often, many of our local veterans are left without friends, family, and gifts during the holiday season. For all they have done for us, we can’t let our hometown vets go without," DeJesus added. A major contributor of ROVAC is Steve Perry, immediate past Grand Knight of the East Providence Knights of Columbus council 1528. Perry is the statewide ROVAC coordinator for the K of C and arranged for several other K of C councils in the state to drop off new clothing, toiletries and other gifts for the veterans at the East Providence council on Pawtucket Avenue. "We've gradually grown every year and from filling up two SUV's a few years ago, we now fill up a large panel truck with new clothing, toiletries and gifts to bring to the Veteran’s Home,” said Perry. “It is really heartwarming to present the brave men and women of our Veteran’s Home with these Christmas gifts.”

DeJesus’ contributions to the community and the industry were recently recognized by the New England Pest Management Association (NEPMA) which presented him with the Bart Eldredge Award. “It is NEPMA’s highest honor recognizing an individual who has made a long-term commitment to the betterment of the pest control industry in New England,” said a company statement. DeJesus is the only person from Rhode Island to win the award.

“I've known Big Blue Bug Solutions Tony DeJesus for a very long time. Not only was and is he the go-to guy for everything about pests and bugs and more, he may also be the nicest guy in our solar system. Always upbeat, a smile on his face and a good word to put you in a good mood. This great man is retiring after 45 years on the job. Tony is deserving of all good things in life and a long happy, healthy retirement. He is a gentleman's gentleman and I, and so many others, are blessed to call him friend,” writes Dante Bellini Jr. Indeed, his EPHS friends would say, "DJ is an example of Townie Pride."


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