Obituary of Sarah L. Werkman
Sarah Loebs Werkman lived with love, grace, boldness, and wanderlust. Having been surrounded by her family, Sarah died on October 3, 2023, with her great love beside her holding her hand as he has done so for more than 35 years, but never so tenderly as the last 2 years and 8 months after Sarah was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.
Passionate about cross-cultural communication, multicultural awareness, and universal belonging, Sarah loved traveling and spoke Japanese and Spanish. Sarah was proud to have lived in three countries and traveled through many others. In her first seven years out of college, she lived in seven different cities. In her teaching career, Sarah was known for going the extra mile for students- driving them to school, bringing breakfast, or lending a sympathetic ear.
Sarah built communities and connections wherever she went. She was passionate about creating a sense of belonging for those she worked for and with as well as for her family and friends. Sarah made people feel cared for with unconditional positive regard. She played the French Horn and rowed crew in college. She practiced yoga and loved to read. One of her favorite things to do was to go to her sons’ sports events – as many of them as she could possibly attend.
Sarah was born on May 15, 1966, in Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. In first grade Sarah began her lifelong love affair with Japan. During the summer after her junior year in high school Sarah took her first trip to Japan as an AFS student (many more were to come). After graduating from Upper Arlington High School, Sarah earned a BA in Asian Studies from Williams College, where she met her eventually-to-be husband. Sarah earned a master’s degree in international education from New York University and a master’s degree in School Counseling from Gonzaga University. Throughout a varied career – as a youth minister, teacher, consultant, and counselor – she made an impact in the lives of teenagers, students, and colleagues. Sarah said, as a working mother, she had two full-time jobs. Among her second jobs she especially enjoyed her work at Colby College, and Visions, Inc. Most recently, Sarah was looking to add more purpose to her days (aside from cancer) and took a part-time job at Sweet Monkey Business and volunteered at the Belfast Soup Kitchen and the Waldo County Y – she enjoyed being with people and kept working until two weeks before her death despite the increasing physical challenges cancer presented.
Work gave Sarah an outlet for her passion to bring the world together, but she said her family was her greatest success. Her love, humor, and dedication to her three “boys” gave them confidence and a sense of belonging. She woke up early to help with homework and stayed up late to talk through challenges at work.
Sarah is survived by her husband Russell, sons Isaac and Xander, and their beloved dog, Blue; her parents Stephen and Susan Loebs; her sister Kathryn Loebs Stauss and brother-in-law Frank Stauss; many cousins, nieces, and nephews. She is also survived by extraordinary friends who walked beside her before and through cancer. Some created the Sarah Loebs Fan Club (which provided her much joy and encouragement on a weekly basis), others joined her through her Caring Bridge Community which wrapped her in love and support as she vividly and transparently shared her experience with cancer. Sarah’s care teams at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Alfond Cancer Center, and the Sussman House provided expertise and exceptional care. The Dempsey Center and the Advanced Cancer Support Group Sarah joined through the center proved to be invaluable resources and support.
Through the Dempsey Center in Maine, Sarah made a legacy video. It can be found at: https://vimeo.com/631252238/89904423c1.
A memorial and reception are being held on Saturday, November 11 at the First Parish Church in Brunswick, Maine starting at 11:00 am. If you would like to do something in Sarah’s honor, please consider donations in her memory to Thula Thula, a private wildlife reserve in South Africa that Sarah visited in May 2022 ( https://thulathula.com/conservation/) or The Belfast Soup Kitchen (https://www.belfastsoupkitchen.org/).
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.ripostafh.com