The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 1, 2011

Cross to shine for fallen Scout

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Everyone is sure that somewhere, an old Boy Scout is blushing bright.

“It was easy to embarrass him,” said Don Weirick of his friend Dave Stefanovige, 22, who died Wednesday in a car accident in Lycoming County. The Susquehanna University graduate, who just finished his schooling in May, “would turn beat red, as red as a fire engine.”

Friends and coworkers remembered Stefanovige as a joyful, giving — and humble — man with a passion for the Boy Scouts, involved with them since he was a kid.  

He’d certainly blush at his remembrance at 7 p.m. today in Paxinos, when the scouts of Explorer Troop 250 will light up the Paxinos Cross — usually done only at Easter — on the mountain overlooking Route 61 in Ralpho Township.

The lighting will coincide with a candlelight vigil at Shamokin Area High School, Stefanovige’s alma mater.

Then from 8 to 10 p.m. there will be another candlelight vigil, this one along Route 61 on the grounds of Koppy’s Propane where scouts present and former, friends and all who want to remember Stefanovige can see the cross, which was another of his passions.

“Everyone (from the troop) decided to do this in his honor,” said Kevin Shervinskie, former scoutmaster for troop 250 and a member of the cross committee.

Stefanovige was “the heart of the troop,” he said. “Without him, a lot of that stuff wouldn’t have gotten done.”

That stuff includes the renovation and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Paxinos Cross last spring. Stefanovige used his IT savvy to put together the audio-visual component of the ceremony and arranged for its simulcast on WQSU, Susquehanna University’s radio station, of which he also was deeply involved.

Brady Gallese, a help desk engineer in Susquehanna’s IT department, remembered bringing in Stefanovige to the radio station and how much he became involved with it.

“We are a close group of IT friends, professionals and student staff, and we’d have a great time with Dave,” Gallese said. “He had the best sense of humor.”

Weirick said that Stefanovige was shy, “but once you got introduced and talked to him, he was like a magpie, he just couldn’t stop,” he said. “His conversations were intoxicating.”

Weirick, also with the Boy Scouts as assistant scoutmaster of Troop 419 in Selinsgrove, said he and Stefanovige were dong a wood-badge course together; he believes the Stefanovige family will receive the set of beads and neckerchief that he would have gotten upon completing the badge.

Stefanovige was working professionally as the scout’s district executive in Williamsport.

“That was his dream job, it was what he wanted to do,” Weirick said. “He loved scouting, and when he got this job, he was golden. It was his passion.”

While Stefanovige’s untimely passing has hit his friends and colleagues hard, the candle and cross vigil — and ceremonies tomorrow at Webber Chapel at Susquehanna — are a fitting tribute to a quiet man with a big heart, whom everyone said accomplished an astounding amount in his short life.

“The thing with Dave is that at 22 years old, he has such a legacy,” Weirick said. “At just 22. And it came easy to him. Making a difference in a boys life — and the difference he could have made in the lives of thousands.”

Ceremony times

The Paxinos Cross lighting ceremony for Dave Stefanovige takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday in Paxinos on Route 61 on the grounds of Koppy’s Propane. From 8 to 10 p.m. will be a candlelight vigil in Stefanovige’s honor. Participants are asked to bring candles and to be careful parking along Route 61.

A closed casket visitation with the family takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. at Webber Chapel on the Susquehanna Univeristy campus, followed by a celebration of life memorial at 4:30 p.m. A reception will follow at the Degenstein Campus Center.