Sarah Jane Chaffee Neal of Trumansburg, NY, died quietly Saturday, October 4th, at Seneca View SNF in Montour Falls, NY.
Sarah, one of eight children of Fred Fayette and (Mary Maude) Marie Daly Chaffee of rural Towanda, Pennsylvania, was predeceased by her parents and her seven siblings. Sarah graduated from the Towanda school system in 1936, married William Rex Neal of Tupelo, Mississippi in 1937, and they started their married life in the Towanda/Sayre area. Bill Neal was one of many handsome “southern boys” who came north and worked in the CCC camps of the 1930’s. Sarah and Bill moved to the Trumansburg area in the early 1940’s for employment in the war effort. Sarah and Bill, raised in different faiths, became confirmed in the Episcopal Church and were active for many years in the Church of the Epiphany in Trumansburg. Sarah worked most of her married life, and went back to school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1957, graduating tops in her class. Sarah was proud to be a nurse in great part because both of her parents were psychiatric nurses at the turn of the 20th century in Willard, NY. Sarah retired in the early 1960’s after working several years at the old Tompkins County Hospital.
Sarah was a very curious person, always enjoying learning new things. In the 1950’s, when Trumansburg school hired a new high school art teacher who gave painting classes in the community, Sarah joined and won several ribbons when her work was entered into the Trumansburg Fair. Sarah was an avid reader whose bookshelves reflected eclectic reading interests, most especially in theology and psychology as she explored the meaning of life. Sarah loved being in nature, taking walks, hunting for old bottles in rural cellar holes, finding treasures at garage sales, gardening, flowers and enjoying her family of 4 children, 8 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-grandchildren, all living in the Ithaca/Watkins Glen area.
Sarah was very nurturing to her many faithful animal companions. She refused to kill any visiting wasps, bugs or ants, instead quietly moving them outside. Sarah was an intense personality and inherited a fighting Irish spirit, which kept her going during times of challenge and adversity. She could remain cheerful and hopeful against all odds, which was courageous, built endurance and shaped her character.
Sarah was predeceased by her son Skip, and husband, Bill. Survivors include 3 daughters: Sarah Spearman of Newfield, NY, Camille “Sue” Alger and Joann Neal both of Watkins Glen, NY, plus her extended family. She is also survived by 7 nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank all of the wonderful people from the Tompkins County Food Net staff and the Seneca View nursing home staff that supported Sarah during her lifetime. These individuals became valued friends and supporters.
The family will be present to receive friends from 1-2pm on Wednesday, October 8th at the Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South St., Trumansburg. Services, at the funeral home, will begin at 2pm on Wednesday with the Rev. Michael Hartney officiating. Prayers of Committal will follow at Grove Cemetery.