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Memorials: University Friends Meeting

Sarah June McElroy

Date of birth

June 1, 1935*

Date of death

April 19, 2017*


University Friends Meeting
*Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Memorial minute

Sarah June McElroy was born to James Harold McElroy and June Grubbs McElroy in Chicago, Illinois on June first, 1935. She died at home, in Seattle on April 19, 2017.

Sarah’s parents moved to Chicago from Oklahoma before their children were born, and Sarah spent summers there as a child and returned to attend college for two years at Oklahoma A&M. She graduated with a degree in nursing from Northwestern University in 1960.

After working for a year in Boulder Colorado, she briefly joined the Peace Corps. subsequently she worked with AFSC in Chicago, and then for the AFSC VISA program in what was then Tanganyica (now Tanzania). Learning Swahili, living in a rural village, meeting Julius Nyerere and Albert Luthuli, and traveling in Africa, the Middle East and Asia were transformative experiences for her.

Returning to the US, she worked in Washington DC, obtained an advanced degree, and also taught at and directed a Montessori preschool.

She moved west in 1982, and met Charlie Raymond at a Mountaineers folk dance in 1985. They lived together for many years, marrying in 1997 in the manner of Friends, including a clearness committee. Sarah became of member of University Friends Meeting in 1998. She worked for some years as a counsellor in the Group Health smoking cessation program.

Sarah was a lifelong seeker, both spiritually and as an activist for peace and justice.

As a spiritual seeker, she was deeply involved with the Seattle Insight Meditation Society (SIMS), serving as an early board member with that organization. Her membership at UFM was more involved with her social activism; she appreciated the Quaker emphasis on combining action with compassion and non-violence. Sarah was always involved in the important issues of the time. Her spiritual development helped her to soften her attachment to particular political outcomes. She was a true organizer, and loved helping people connect with each other.

She lived mindfully, and played joyfully. When her friend Ruth  was undergoing chemotherapy, Sarah brought her a complete witch costume to wear for Halloween, which Ruth found most cheering.

With Charlie, she learned to love mountains and cross-country skiing, and to tolerate the discomforts associated with the adventurous outdoor life. Together they fell in love with Stehekin, and built a retirement home there.

Charlie describes her  two-and-a-half years with cancer as an experience that was intense and constraining, but deeply enriching to them and their relationship. Her care committee, half from UFM and half from SIMS provided tangible assistance, love and support.

Sarah had a good death. Hospice and the care committee were wonderfully helpful. She did not have pain, and was able to be up and about until the last week or two.  She was present, aware, and unafraid until the very end.