Sarah Smith

Feb 06, 2020
Sarah Smith

Belfast — Sarah Smith died Feb. 2, 2020, from a massive seizure. It was the last of many challenges she faced in her life.

She became diabetic at the age of 8, lost her vision at the age of 30, survived the sinking of a boat, had a stroke at the age of 68 and finally, at the age of 71, she met the challenge that ended her life.

But these are not the events that defined her life. In fact, as a friend recently wrote, “…Sarah’s life story was a series of triumphs.”

Sarah grew up in Wayland, Mass., where she was born April 24, 1948, to John B. and Barbara (Hulst) Gregory. She also enjoyed many fulfilling years in Salem before moving to Maine with her husband, Bill.

Sarah played clarinet as a young person, enjoying several years of attending a music camp at Kinhaven Music School in Vermont. She loved it. Later, Sarah started playing traditional music, mostly for New England contra dancing. She became a caller, continuing long after she became totally blind. Sarah could “read a room” like no other.

Sarah met her husband, Bill, through music, and, together, they sang and played throughout southern New England.

Sarah was also a sailor. She loved sailing her 33-foot ketch with assistance from an audio compass.

Sarah was a teacher at heart. She taught fifth grade until she lost her sight and then continued teaching music and dance. She never lost her gift for teaching and learning, absorbing all she could from the world around her.

After losing her sight, Sarah relied on guide dogs to help her find her way in the world. In fact, in 1994, to help publicize the school that trained and supplied her guide dogs (Guiding Eyes for the Blind), Sarah walked from Boston to New York! It was a 300-mile journey and took her 30 days.

She grew up learning to identify birds by their songs and continued to love birding as a totally blind person.

In an article she wrote about her dogs, Sarah noted that she and Bill had no “human children.” That’s how she felt and that is the straightforward and somewhat ironic way that she liked to express herself. As another friend said, “... she lit up every room she entered.”

Sarah is survived by her husband, Bill; her brothers, Nick and Brooke, and sister Hannah; as well as many nieces and nephews; her guide-dog, Hamilton; and countless friends.

Gatherings celebrating Sarah’s life are being planned for both Maine and the Boston area. In Maine, the gathering will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, 35 Miller St., from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22. People are invited to bring instruments, songs to sing, songs to lead or stories to tell. It will fulfill Sarah’s desire of how she would like to be remembered.

A Boston-area gathering is being planned for April 24 or 25.

A fund has been established in Sarah’s honor at the Kinhaven Music Camp. Its purpose is to help provide young people with the same kind of joyous musical experience that opened the world of music to her as a young person. Donations to the fund in lieu of flowers should be sent to Kinhaven Music School, 354 Lawrence Hill Road, Weston, VT 05161.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at ripostafh.com.

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