Unity man had zest for life, traveled Europe
Dwight Sarson’s graduation trip was an adventure to remember. He and his friend hitchhiked across Europe in 1972, traveling to Italy, Sweden, France, England and Germany, said his wife, Dana Santone Sarson.
“They had a grand time,” traveling and living on bread and wine to save money, she said.
“That was an example of how he lived life. He made the most of it,” said his son, Erik Sarson of Cranberry.
Dwight A. Sarson, 64, of Unity died Saturday, April 27, 2019, in UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, after a battle with leukemia. He had been diagnosed in 2017, had a stem cell transplant in February 2018 and was on the road to recovery until the leukemia returned in November, his wife said.
He was born Sept. 25, 1954, in Ridgway, a son of the late Thomas and Mavis (Rydquist) Sarson. His family moved to Greensburg, and he graduated from Greensburg Salem High School, where he played football.
After returning home from Europe, his desire for adventure not satisfied, he joined the Church World Service and went to Africa. There, he did construction work, his wife said.
He also worked on the barges that plied Western Pennsylvania’s three rivers, enduring the three-week-long work schedule for a few years. It was a dangerous job, never as much as when Mr. Sarson fell into the freezing water one February night and had to swim ashore to save himself. The story goes that he did not go to the hospital but went back onto the ship instead.
They lived along the Loyalhanna Creek near Kingston Dam, which gave him the opportunity to go kayaking and canoeing. He taught his daughter, Ayla Michael K. Sarson, how to paddle a kayak, his wife said.
“Whenever he could put something in the water, he loved it,” she said.
He was an avid follower of his daughter’s career as a competitive dancer, his wife said. Even when he was being treated at the hospital, he would follow Ayla on his computer.
“He was a ‘Dance Dad,’ ” she said.
Ayla, 17, said her dad was considered a father figure by many of her friends.
“He had a way of adopting everybody,” she said. “He was a great role model.”
He loved children and was dedicated to playing Santa Claus every year. He had the big white beard and body shape for it, his wife said.
“That’s what made his Christmas,” she said.
Mr. Sarson was an insurance agent in Latrobe and owned and operated his own agency.
In addition to his wife, son and daughter, he is survived by two grandchildren.
Friends were received Thursday at the Hartman-Graziano Funeral Home, 1500 Ligonier St., Latrobe, and will be received from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1325 Mission Road, Latrobe, at which time funeral services will be held.
Interment will be private.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Year of Love Dwight Sarson Memorial Fund, c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1325 Mission Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .