Laura ‘Elsa’ Sabath died at her home in Seattle, Washington on August 30, 2018. She was 77.
Born Laura Dockray on May 31, 1939 in Sweetwater Texas, she grew up a Presbyterian in the small cotton town of Lubbock, wore six-shooters and cowboy boots, and sketched horses. She taught her spaniel to climb the park slide, and eventually grew out of Oz books into star-gazing and a microscope.
Elsa became an arachnologist. In 1968 she collected spiders for a research museum while backpacking across the Pacific to join her then-husband Michael Sabath in Guam. They lived out of a converted yellow school bus for the duration of his tour at the Naval Hospital there. While in Guam, Elsa watched B-52s, black against each day's sunrise and sunset, and worked on Guam’s first Earth Day. She studied low-relief wood- carving with a Palau Islands master who spoke no English. Elsa and Mike had a son, Daniel. Mike passed away at the age of 38 from lung cancer.
From Guam she moved to Indiana where she encountered Quakers and learned to listen for inward Guidance. Eventually she returned to Lubbock where she founded a community of care and formed long-lasting friendships with the local Catholic Diocese and the parish of Saint John Neumann. She raised awareness of conscientious objection and the history of nonviolent actions worldwide as alternatives to traditional war. As a vocal opponent to war and advocate for justice, she was arrested for gentle sit-ins opposing the injustices in Central America and the first Iraq war.
For several years in her later life she lived out of her van while visiting and volunteering in many of the western national parks, eventually settling in Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She became a member of Boulder Friends Meeting in 2006. Her declining health and chemical sensitivities prevented her from attending Meeting for Worship. She was determined to join the Peace and Social Justice Committee, and was eventually able to attend meetings via telephone. She is remembered for her persistence, intelligence, and suggestions for projects.
Elsa enjoyed her final years in Seattle with her family and granddaughter, taking long walks and enjoying urban nature.
In her own words:
Across all history, there have been those who yearn for the highest well- being of every member of the human family. I want to be part of that great envelope of loving care that goes out across space and time and surrounds each one of us. To me, it gives each one the best chance to become their best selves, and our species its best chance for survival.
I can’t make sense of trying to destroy the bad guys (restrain yes) because it multiplies them. Our tendency to imitate is very strong, and we see how the arms race is fueled - and are distracted from dealing with the environment, etc. that is essential to survival.
Elsa is preceded in death by Michael Sabath and her parents Thord and Erika Dockray. She is survived by her son, Daniel Sabath, his wife Pamela Hale and their daughter Calliope Sabath. Her brother Karl
Dockray and her nieces, Tracy Dockray-Rudd and Erica ‘Dee’ Cowell, also survive her. Her nephew, Eric Dockray preceded her in death.
Respectfully submitted by Fran Boler and Marilyn Hayes, Boulder Friends Meeting