Diane Keaton, Sullenberger and Noonan receive PNC’s Common Wealth Awards

Keaton, with her distinctive style; Sullenberger; and Noonan.

Over the weekend,  the annual Common Wealth Awards of Distinguished Service celebrated three achievers for their lifetime accomplishments.

The awards recognize individuals who have enriched modern culture through their professional and personal endeavors.

      The 2019 Common Wealth Award recipients are:

  • Diane Keaton, Academy Award-winning and Tony-nominated actor, film director, for Dramatic Arts;
  • Peggy Noonan, presidential speechwriter, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, for Mass Communications;
  • Captain Sully Sullenberger, American hero, safety expert, and author for Public Service

The honorees were recognized at the Common Wealth Awards ceremony hosted by The PNC Financial Services Group at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington.

The Common Wealth Awards of Distinguished Service were first presented in 1979 by The Common Wealth Trust which was created under the will of Ralph Hayes, an influential business executive and philanthropist. The awards are made by The Common Wealth Trust.


In the 40-year history of the Common Wealth Awards, more than $6 million has been awarded to 204 honorees.

“During a year in which we celebrate a milestone in the history of Common Wealth Awards, it is especially fitting that the fortieth anniversary honoree class features some of the most accomplished and admired men and women in their respective fields,” said Bruce H. Colbourn, market executive of PNC Bank in Delaware. “We applaud these high achievers for their accomplishments and unwavering commitment to excellence.”

 Since 2000, PNC has sponsored the annual Common Wealth Awards writing contest for Delaware high school students who are inspired by the honorees. Students were asked to explain which Common Wealth Awards honoree they most want to meet and why. A winning essay is selected for each honoree. In recognition of their achievement, the students and their parents/guardian were invited to attend the Common Wealth Awards Ceremony and a pre-event reception. To date, 64 student winners representing various Delaware high schools have met the high achievers honored by the Common Wealth Awards.

For four decades, the Common Wealth Awards have recognized heads of state, scientists and inventors, explorers, authors, performing artists and activists. Past winners include 11 Nobel laureates, among them, human rights leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, statesman Henry Kissinger and authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison. Other high achievers on the Common Wealth Awards roster include former Secretary of State Colin Powell; H.M. Queen Noor of Jordan; dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov; Hollywood icons Sidney Poitier and Meryl Streep; astronauts John Glenn and Buzz Aldrin; primatologist Jane Goodall; ocean explorer Robert Ballard; television journalists Walter Cronkite, Bob Schieffer and Anderson Cooper; and social activists Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Betty Ford and Christopher Reeves.

Ralph Hayes, the creator of the Common Wealth Awards, served on the board of directors of one of PNC’s predecessor banks in Delaware from 1935 to 1965. Through the awards, he sought to recognize outstanding achievement in eight disciplines: dramatic arts, literature, science, invention, mass communications, public service, government, and sociology. The awards also are an incentive for individuals to make future contributions to the world community.

The Wilmington  event has become more private in nature in recent years, with no public announcement of recipients or media or community interviews prior to the event.