The Legacy of Leadership

John Pieno

We honor the legacy of Capt. USN (Ret.) 7/13/1940 – 8/26/2023.

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved John Pieno, a loving husband and father, a great patriot, and the co-founder of The Sterling Council. When we think of John Pieno, we think of Sterling.

John and his wife, Dione Geiger, were the founding trailblazers of Sterling, establishing the Florida Sterling Council back in 1992 under the direction of Governor Lawton Chiles. John, no doubt, was a driving force in making Sterling what it is today: a state, regional, and international organization.

John A. Pieno, Jr. is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, where he attended West Jefferson High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in management from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1962. Shortly after graduating, he joined the US Navy as an Aviation Officer candidate at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Knowing someone with such an illustrious military and professional career is rare. This nation owes him a debt of gratitude, and he will forever be remembered as a leader and a hero. A highlight of his naval journey, as it began, was when John earned his Naval Flight Officer wings in Corpus Christi, Texas in April 1963. He served for 28 years and attained the rank of Captain USN. During his service, he flew over 6,000 jet hours, accumulated 1,310 aircraft carrier arrested landings and flew over 200 combat missions.

After retirement from the U.S. Navy, he worked as a legislative director for the Grumman Corporation in Washington D.C. until he was asked to come to Tallahassee to serve as one of Governor Lawton Chiles’ cabinet members. John proposed to Governor Chiles that we adopt the national Baldridge Criteria for the state of Florida, and this resulted in the formation of the Florida Sterling Council, which held our first meeting on June 25, 1992.

John leaves a tremendous legacy. Under his leadership, he helped create a vision for the State of Florida to be a State of excellence (and beyond). John will be missed by all who had the great pleasure of knowing him. John was a great patriot and will be honored and buried at Arlington Cemetery, his wish and a well-deserved resting place for our hero.

Captain John Pieno: You honored your beloved wife, Dione, your family, nation, state and Sterling with great distinction. Rest in peace, dear friend.

If you would like to honor John Pieno’s legacy, we invite you to donate in his honor to the Sterling Foundation. You may donate to this special “GoFundMe” campaign or send a check to the Sterling Foundation, P.O. Box 13907 Tallahassee, FL 32317.