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Dawn J. Saari

December 2, 1959 May 22, 2022
Dawn J. Saari
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Obituary for Dawn J. Saari
Dawn Jo-Dene Bixby Saari passed away peacefully on May 22, 2022, after many years of suffering the effects of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Dawn was an unforgettable personality, voracious reader, passionate educator and loving grandmother. Her stamp on the world can be seen in the hundreds of children she taught throughout her career, and in the hearts of her family, who wish they could have had her for longer.
Dawn was born to Nolan (Tim) and Betty (Stipe) Bixby on December 2, 1959. As a child she lived in numerous locations with her parents and two sisters including Wyoming, Montana, Alaska and California. She enjoyed running track in High School, and soon after graduating, she enlisted and served two years In the United States Army, where she gained proficiency as a grenadier.
After receiving an honorable discharge, she made her way to Connecticut where she met her future husband, Neil E. Saari, Jr., whom she married on July 3, 1982. The following year they welcomed their first son, Joshua, and three years later, their second son, Christopher.
With the support of her husband, Dawn attained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Connecticut College while raising two energetic boys and running the household. An ever-fearless cheerleader, advocate, pillar of support, and strong-willed matriarch, Dawn instilled in her sons the importance of being good, upstanding individuals and striving to achieve what you desire.
Dawn spent many years as a server at the Preston Dairy in Preston, Conn., before attaining a position with Norwich Public Schools, where she taught until her retirement in 2021. As a History and Social Studies teacher, Dawn’s passion for education had a profound impact on her fellow educators, co-workers, and most importantly, her students during her twenty-year career.
Her interest in history encompassed her own genealogy, and she spent many afternoons traveling to research her family history, resulting in an extensively documented family tree dating back hundreds of years. In addition to her genealogical trips, she spent many summers traveling to visit her father in Wyoming at the Two Creek Cattle Ranch, or to car shows in her 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan that her husband Neil restored. She prided herself on how quickly she could reach her destination (following all posted speed limits of course) and with as few stops as possible, often only stopping long enough to fuel up the car and to refresh herself and her coffee mug.
A life-long student herself, Dawn traveled the world through teaching workshops like the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers' Program, with recent trips to Bulgaria, South Africa, Honduras, Poland, Israel, Germany and the Czech Republic. She treasured the experiences gained and the many personal and professional connections she made across the globe.
All of this, she accomplished all while being under the ever-watchful eyes of the many well-loved cats that were her faithful companions throughout the years.
In recent years, Dawn’s greatest joys came from being a grandmother. She happily welcomed grandson Wilder and granddaughter Moxie, and gleefully selected “YaYa” as her new moniker. She applied the same enthusiasm to the role that carried her through life, taking hundreds of pictures, searching out endless “tickle fat” and handcrafting treasured blankets, dinosaurs and dolls.
As her health declined in recent years, music was a peaceful comfort to Dawn, and we remember her in the immortal words of John Prine: “Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery, make me a poster of an old rodeo. Just give me one thing that I can hold on to. To believe in this livin', is just a hard way to go.”
Dawn is survived by her son Joshua and his wife Jennifer, along with their children Wilder and Moxie, and by her son Christopher and his partner Jess, along with her children Destiny, Anna and Gray. She is predeceased by her parents, and her husband Neil, who passed away in 2020.
A “come and go” celebration of life for both Dawn and Neil Saari will be held on July 16th from 3PM-5PM at the Mohegan Park Lakeside Pavilion (center of the park), 189 Mohegan Park Rd, Norwich, CT.
In lieu of flowers, please consider taking a walk with a loved one, supporting someone in quitting smoking, donating to your favorite charity, or giving to: To Write Love On Her Arms at
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3:00 PM 7/16/2022 3:00:00 PM - 5:00 PM 7/16/2022 5:00:00 PM
Mohegan Park Pavilion

189 Mohegan Park Road
Norwich, CT 06360

A memorial will be held to honor and celebrate the life of Dawn Saari.

Mohegan Park Pavilion
189 Mohegan Park Road Norwich 06360 CT
United States

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