Quite simply, Byron Harriger liked helping other people. He dedicated his life to teaching children in his Sewickley community as well as helping those in need.
Mr. Harriger, who served as a firefighter and schoolteacher for decades in the same area where he grew up, died Thursday at Villa St. Joseph in Baden. He was 78.
His wife, Virginia, said she had not yet been told the cause of death.
Growing up on the same street as the local fire chief, Mr. Harriger was exposed at a young age to the work of firefighters. He would watch them practice and dreamed of one day joining their ranks.
As a boy, Mr. Harriger was allowed to ride in the fire truck during parades, a perk of his acquaintance with the chief. The chief watched Mr. Harriger grow up and made sure he stayed out of trouble, his wife said with a chuckle.
Spending time with the firefighters during his childhood molded Mr. Harriger's aspiration to eventually serve himself. He worked for the Cochran Hose Company in Sewickley for about 40 years, at one point serving as the assistant chief.
Even in the midst of danger, Mr. Harringer never let anxiety get the best of him.
"He was never nervous when it came to helping others," lifelong friend Ken Johns, 76, of Sewickley said. "He was probably the hardest worker the station ever had."
Mrs. Harriger, his wife of 55 years, said the only time her husband would miss a fire was if he was teaching.
For 35 years, he was a sixth-grade teacher at Leetsdale, Sewickley and Osborne elementary schools.
Mr. Johns, also a teacher at Quaker Valley School District, called Mr. Harriger a good instructor and disciplinarian.
"He really cared about his kids," Mr. Johns said. "He was a real Sewickley guy and would always see his students around town. Many of them would come up to him and say hello."
Mrs. Harriger said former students even came to see her husband recently when he was at the nursing home.
The longtime Sewickley resident also volunteered at the local United Methodist Church, specifically coordinating the annual turkey dinners.
Pastor Russel Shuluga said Mr. Harriger's weekly presence will be deeply missed, although he never drew much attention to himself.
"He was a man of quiet faith," Mr. Shuluga said. "His faith was very much demonstrated in the gift of his presence."
In addition to his wife, Mr. Harriger is survived by his son Byron Harriger III of Sewickley; and his brother Charles Harriger of Lower Burrell.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today and from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Copeland's Funeral Home, 702 Beaver St., Sewickley. A funeral service will take place Monday at 10 a.m. at Sewickley United Methodist Church, 337 Broad St.
Jessica Tully: email@example.com, 412-263-1159, or Twitter: @jessalynn4.