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Obituary Stories

Outdoorsman 'strongest man I ever met'

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

If one of Don Hegland's cousins was being bullied at school, they needed only to mention his name, and it would stop.

“They'd get out of being picked on just by saying Don was their cousin,” his sister Callie Utzman of Greensburg said. “He was the strongest man I ever met, and he was that type of protector.”

Donald C. Hegland of Mt. Washington, formerly of Irwin, died Saturday, May 26, 2018, of multiple myeloma. He was 60.

Mr. Hegland was born April 18, 1958, son of the late Mary Davis Firlik. He grew up in Irwin.

In his younger days, Mr. Hegland often could be found hunting at his family's camp in Ligonier.

“My granddad would take him and my cousins,” Utzman said. “He was always bringing home a deer on the roof of the car.”

Utzman and Mr. Hegland regularly sold Christmas trees out of their grandparents' yard.

In 1975, Mr. Hegland joined the Marine Corps, where he served until 1979 as a combat engineer out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He spent his career working as a truck driver and as a member of Teamsters Local 249.

In the early 2000s, he met Chris Krivanek through her sister, who worked at the same Yellow Freight Trucking Co. as Mr. Hegland.

“We went to Cigna's Restaurant in Lawrenceville on our first date, and we got married Sept. 9, 2006,” Krivanek said, describing her husband as a gentle man with a lot of knowledge about building.

“He knew plumbing, he knew electricity,” she said. “He didn't build our house, but he fixed it up a lot.”

Mr. Hegland continued hunting and fishing as an adult, making regular trips to Twin Lakes near Greensburg and to property he owned near Seven Springs.

“He loved walking in the woods and hunting back there,” Chris said.

Utzman said she'd never met anyone as powerful as her brother.

“He could lug a refrigerator up a set of steps,” she said. “On the day he was diagnosed (with multiple myeloma), I told him the same thing: that he was strongest man I'd ever known, and he would beat it.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hegland is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Wilson, and his sisters, Brenda (John) Heckman and Callie (Bob) Utzman.

Friends and family will be received, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Valerian F. Szal Funeral Home, 238 Helen St., McKees Rocks. A funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the funeral home, followed by a 10 a.m. service in Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church, 200 Grace St., McKees Rocks.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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