Sara “Sally” Rigas


Sara “Sally” Rigas

Sara “Sally” Johnston Rigas, 87, of Walton passed away peacefully Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 at AO Fox Hospital Nursing Home in Oneonta. Sara was born on Oct. 31, 1936, in Cleveland, Ohio and is the daughter of the late Arthur and Bridget Johnston of Willoughby, Ohio.

Growing up in Willoughby, Sally loved to read and spent a lot of time keeping up with her three older brothers, Richard, William, and Bruce. She graduated from Willoughby Union High School, and attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. At college, she met her husband, the late Lawrence Rigas (d. 2016), who was also a Muskie. Larry and Sara were married in February 1956, in Zanesville, Ohio.

Soon after marriage, Sara and her husband settled in the town of Walton, where they raised their six children. She was an honest, hardworking, unpretentious, passionately kind woman - and naturally embraced her Scottish-born mother’s stoicism. Sara was committed to raising her children with manners and a good start. She loved Larry and supporting him gave her a welcomed source of purpose and happiness. Working as a reading teacher at Townsend Elementary School also brought her much satisfaction. She had many good friends there, and she talked about her work with the students with pride. As a mother, she was very active in all her children’s lives, and was always a source of strength, guidance, and care.

She was a remarkable source of stability and devotion. Kabril Gibran’s words best describes Sara’s parenting: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.”

Sara loved working with students at Townsend Elementary School, being a wife and mother, but she was also very fond of her community and gave her time generously. She was an active member of the United Presbyterian Church, where she was a member of the United Presbyterian Ladies Circle, a deacon and a volunteer; a 4-H community leader; high school bowling coach; and a Sunday school teacher for a bit. One of her favorite pastimes was bowling, and she was active for many years in the Walton Women’s Bowling League with many of her closest friends. She looked forward to their annual ladies-only trip to the statewide competitions, and always enjoyed the trip. She loved to travel, both near and far. When her children and grandchildren were in school, she enjoyed attending all their sporting events and horse shows alongside Larry. After most family members had graduated, you would still see them attending as many games and events as possible.

Donations in memory of Sara can be sent to the Walton Central School District, 47-49 Stockton Ave, Walton, NY 13856. All donations will go towards the Larry Sez Annual Scholarship to support college-bound students studying engineering, writing, and sports management.

Sara is survived by her loving family, her children Steve Rigas, Walton; Susan (John) Tucciarone, Toronto, Canada; Arthur (Heidi) Rigas, Oneonta; Margaret (Marc) Adam, Walton; Richard Rigas, Wilmington, N.C.; and Bridget Rigas (Neil Davis), Williamstown, Mass.; grandchildren Lawrence Robert (Allie) Rigas, Walton; Concetta Tucciarone (Brandon VanTol), Toronto, Canada; Lucas (Kristi-Anne) Tucciarone, Toronto, Canada; Morgan Rigas (Taylor Dodson), Atlanta, Ga.; Zachary Rigas, Oneonta; Molly Rigas, Oneonta; Matthew Rigas, Oneonta; Kyle Besemer (Jillian Skidmore-Besemer), Oneonta; Erik Besemer (Stephanie Morgan), Walton; Brooke Adam (Travis Terry), Walton; Colin Adam, Walton; Abigail Rigas, Wilmington, N.C.; Oliver Rigas, Wilmington, N.C.; Vincent Rigas, Wilmington, N.C.; Inez Garzon, Williamstown, Mass.; and Eloise Garzon, Williamstown, Mass., and 11 great-grandchildren: Parker, Tinsley, Travis Jr., Olivia, Sophia, Jackson “Hemi,” Sawyer, Finnegan, Bowie, Scarlett, and Lando.

She is predeceased by parents Arthur and Bridget Johnston (Ohio), her husband Lawrence Rigas, her brothers Bruce Johnston (Arizona), Richard Johnson (Ohio), and William Johnston (Berchtesgaden, Germany), Brynn Besemer, and Sebastian Garzon.

Funeral services are being organized by Courtney Funeral Home and will be held at the United Presbyterian Church, Walton, on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m. with Pastor Paul Huh officiating. Burial will follow later this spring.