Deacon Robert W. Dizer, a member of the first group of permanent deacons in the Diocese of Rochester, died June 14, 2004, at his home in Owego after a long illness. He was 74 years old.
Deacon Dizer was born in Weymouth, Mass. He earned certificates from Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology and Chicago’s Coyne Electrical and Radio School. In 1957 he settled in Owego to work for IBM Corp., where he was a manufacturing manager.
In 1982 Deacon Dizer was ordained as part of the inaugural deacons’ class. He then served at his parish, St. Patrick’s in Owego, but his ministry was interrupted by a job transfer to Germany that lasted several years.
Deacon George Burnett, who was ordained in 1986 and also served at St. Patrick’s, said the influence of Deacon Dizer and his wife, Joan, led him to pursue the diaconate with the support of his own wife, Pat.
“It was because of our heart-to-heart talks that I followed my feelings,” said Deacon Burnett, who is now retired.
In 1997, after Deacon Dizer had returned to live in Owego, he suffered a serious neck injury in a swimming accident. He spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic and was often bedridden. Yet even though Deacon Dizer was limited to rare appearances at church, Deacon Burnett recalled a homily given by his good friend from a wheelchair a few years ago.
“He was very, very impressive. He was pretty much telling about his personal experience with the Lord,” Deacon Burnett said. “He handled (his condition) a lot better than most people … he was such a gentle person, such a good family man.”
“When I would talk with him, he was always concerned about how I was doing,” said Deacon David Palma, director of the diocesan Office of Deacon Personnel. “It was just beautiful that he would be so concerned.”
Deacon Dizer’s health struggles were noted in a feature story in the June 19-20 Southern Tier edition of the Catholic Courier Weekly, which had gone to press just days before his death.
His funeral Mass was celebrated June 17 at St. Patrick’s Church, with Father William Moorby, pastor, serving as celebrant. Interment was at St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
In addition to his wife of 50 years, Deacon Dizer is survived by 11 children; two sisters; and numerous grandchildren, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Memorial donations may be made to Tioga County Rural Ministry, 60 North Ave., Owego, NY 13827; or the Owego Fire/Emergency Squad, P.O. Box 22, Owego, NY 13827.