By Sarah DeSantis, The News-Item
The longtime county judge was celebrated as a fixture of kindness and generosity in Northumberland County, especially in the Dalmatia area, where he resided for most his life.
Though perhaps best known as a judge, Wiest was a notable philanthropist. In addition to other charitable acts, he and his wife, Karen, helped initiate a program through the Spreading Antlers Children’s Foundation that brought local elementary school students to the Sunbury YMCA for swimming lessons. The couple also established a scholarship program in memory of two of their children for Line Mountain School District students.
Retired judge Robert B. Sacavage worked alongside Wiest for four decades, including 16 years as fellow judges. He described Wiest as an excellent judge with a special gift for working with children.
“He was my associate judge, he was my friend and he was a very competent judge who had a heart of gold,” said Sacavage. “He will be a hard person to replace.”
Commissioners Sam Schiccatano and Rick Shoch issued a joint statement ordering flags in Northumberland County to half-mast for the coming week in memory of Wiest.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Judge William H. Wiest this morning as we join them, and many others, in mourning the passing of a man who meant so much to his family, friends and community,” the statement read. “His devotion to his family and his community was immediately evident to all who worked with him over the years, and the dignity and professionalism with which he conducted himself while in public office will continue to serve as an inspiration and example for our community’s future leaders.”
Wiest, 71, suffered a fall in his driveway Wednesday afternoon after returning home from the courthouse. By Thursday, doctors had determined he would not recover from injuries he sustained to his head.
He sat on the bench in Northumberland County from 1998 until he reached the state-mandated retirement age of 70 in 2016. A 1963 graduate of Mahanoy Joint High School, a predecessor school of Line Mountain School District, Wiest considered pursuing a career in music before gaining an interest in law while attending Susquehanna University. He served as the organist of Trinity Church, Dalmatia, for more than 57 years.
A memorial service and celebration of Bill’s life will be held at noon Saturday, June 3, at Weber Chapel on the grounds of Susquehanna University. Light refreshments will follow on campus.
A private burial service will be held at the discretion of the family with arrangements through the Farrow Funeral Home of Shamokin.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Bill’s memory be made to his revered and cherished church home, the Trinity U.C.C. Church, 2082 Route 147, of Dalmatia, PA 17017.