Sunday night’s celebration of Dave Sitton’s life at McKale Center was the kind of event that … well, it was the kind of event that Dave Sitton would have loved to emcee.
It still feels unfathomable that Sitton won’t be hosting local galas, raising money for charity events, showing up on our TVs, filling our airwaves, singing with the Tucson Pops Orchestra, inspiring others in their fight against cancer, just being Tucson’s ultimate renaissance man.
“What single person can replace Dave Sitton?” his football broadcast partner John Fina told me last week. “He did the work of 10 men and women.”
Sitton died unexpectedly last Monday morning at 58.
A couple thousand turned out at McKale Center on Sunday night. Friends from so many of his walks of his life spoke about him and joked about him, specifically his perpetual lateness. Any story about that was followed with a tale of his perpetual thoughtfulness.
Tommy Lasorda, former manager of Sitton’s beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, sent his condolences. NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks — who was the Arizona baseball P.A. announcer as a student in the mid 1980s, when Sitton was broadcasting games on the radio — appeared in a video thanking Sitton for being an early mentor.
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said he “lived in Tucson for probably six months before I realized somebody other than Dave emceed events in this town.”
Byrne said Sitton was the kind of person who, in every encounter with someone, was able to “fill their bucket” with happiness. Sitton’s only negative words, Byrne added, came when talking about “our rivals up north,” but even the Arizona State rugby team was moved to send a bouquet of (maroon and gold) flowers.
The Arizona rugby club team, which Sitton directed for 35 years, plans to honor their coach by running an extra lap in every practice. The Boys and Girls Club of Tucson announced they will start a scholarship in his name.
Amid the celebration of his accomplishments and contributions to the community, another theme emerged.
While there won’t be another Dave Sitton in Tucson, and it might take truly take 10 people to fill the roles he attacked with so much gusto, it was suggested that anybody who wanted to honor him in a small way simply try to do an extra act of kindness each day.
Sean Mooney, Sitton’s longtime friend and a KVOA-Channel 4 anchor, was the emcee of the event for the man who was Tucson’s Master of Ceremonies.
Mooney ended the ceremony with this thought from Paul Shane Spear: “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.”
Sitton did that and so much more.
From TucsonCitizen.com blogger Andy Morales: Longtime friend Dave Sitton passes away
From 2005 Tucson Citizen profile: Big Shot calls the shots