On Sunday, May 7 at 2:33 a.m., the Reverend John Sass, Jr. entered the Church Triumphant while holding the hand of his youngest granddaughter Danielle, who faithfully kept watch over him during his last days.
One of 13 children, Rev. Sass was born in his parents’ home near Berlin, PA, on August 9, 1926, to John Sass Sr. and Ida Domer Sass.
On August 13, 1943, at the age of 17, he joined the US Navy and served until March 24, 1946, on the heavy cruiser, the USS Quincy. He was at the Battle of Normandy and served in both the European-African theater and Pacific fronts for 31 months.
He also survived the typhoon off the coast of Okinawa when the USS Pittsburgh lost her bow. While serving on the USS Quincy, he spoke with General Eisenhower and was onboard to take President Roosevelt to and from the Yalta Conference. He was in the Pacific on VE Day and in Tokyo Bay on VJ Day.
On August 9, 1947, he married Mildred Jenette Bittner, “the love of his life,” who predeceased him on April 19 of last year. They were married by his wife’s uncle, Rev. E.I. Mankamyer, at his grandmother’s house in Potomac Park, Cumberland, MD.
They leave four children: Rev. Darlene Williams and her husband Rev. Jerry Williams, of Pittsburgh; Darla Hawke and her husband Jeff, of Franklin; Dr. Kim Sass and his wife Kathy, of Hamden, CT; and Kraig Sass and his wife Diane, of Lexington, SC.
They also leave ten grandchildren: Amy McLaughlin and her husband Daniel; John Williams and his wife Taylor; Heather Ditzenberger-Allie and her husband Ty; Danielle Benson and her husband Levi; Alexander Sass; and J. Hunter Hawke and his girlfriend Loren Basler. Five step-grandchildren: Andy Wantiez and his wife Kelly; Joel Wantiez and his wife Jessica; and Tyler Wantiez, and nine great-grandchildren: Bailey, Riley, Bryce, & Macie McLaughlin; Emma & Brody Ditzenberger; Sawyer, Matthew, & Jacob Wantiez.
He graduated from Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, with a B.A. Degree in 1954 and from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH, with a Master of Divinity in 1959. He was ordained in the First Evangelical United Brethren Church in Johnstown, PA, in June 1959 by Bishop Howard.
While in college, he served three years as pastor at the Nicholasville City Mission and his last year at American Avenue Church in Lexington, KY. He was then assigned to the five churches in the Cherry Tree Charge near Indiana, PA, from 1954-1956, the Brown County Parish from 1956-1957, and Castine-Yankeetown Charge from 1957-1959, both of which were in the Ohio Miami Conference.
In 1959, he was assigned to serve the Salix and Elton Evangelical United Brethren churches in the Johnstown District and was there for 16 years. While there, he oversaw the building of a new parsonage at Salix; a new parsonage, an educational unit, and the rebuilding of the sanctuary after sustaining an arson fire at the Elton Charge.
In 1975, he was assigned to the Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, PA, where he served for 17 years. During his ministry there, he oversaw the rebuilding of the church due to a fire and the purchase of a new parsonage. Also during this time the worship service began being broadcast on local television, which continues today.
Since his retirement on June 30, 1992, he served as interim pastor at Galloway United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, East Grove & Polk churches, and the Church of Christ in Titusville. He served the Uniontown Heights Sunday School & Church in Franklin, as pastor, for another six years. Then as interim pastor for Christ United Methodist Church for six months prior to the installation of the Rev. David Janz, the present pastor.
On June 20, 2004, he was installed as Pastor Emeritus of Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin.
While at the Salix-Elton Charge, he served as president of the ministerium, secretary of the Committee on Evangelism, was a member of the Commission on Equitable Salaries, a counselor at Camp Allegheny, a member of the Johnstown Lions Club, serving as both president and secretary. While at Christ United Methodist Church, he sat on the Board of Venango Video, the Personal Care Home Provision Board of Venango County, Northwest Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board, Venango County AAA Advisory Council, and Area Agency on Aging Board. He also held Conference positions on the Board of Equitable Salaries and Board of Pensions.
Rev. Sass enjoyed photography, golfing, and in later years, exercising and swimming at the Franklin YMCA. But most of all he enjoyed traveling with his wife of 68 years and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Huff Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc., 312 West Park St. Franklin where family and friends are welcome from 4-7p.m. Tuesday. Additional visitation was set for 10-11 a.m., Wednesday, May 10 at Christ United Methodist Church 1135 Buffalo St. Franklin, where funeral services were to follow at 11 with Rev. Janz and Rev. Sam Wagner, church pastors, officiating.
Full military honors will be rendered by the V.E.T.S. Honor Guard at the church following the funeral service. Interment will follow at Franklin Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Christ United Methodist Church 1135 Buffalo St. Franklin, PA 16323.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.HuffFuneral.com.