Obituary for Sarah Sears (Kerr)
Born Sarah Gill Kerr on 13 January 1929 in Allensville, Kentucky “Sally,” as her family called her, died at age 88 on 10 June 2017.
Even though she spent most of her life in Webster Groves, Sarah was fond of saying “you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” She loved the farm where she grew up, learning to ride and drive mules and draft horses by age five and being active in 4H. She especially enjoyed tailing the local veterinarian when he called and, on her own tended to many sick animals. Sarah wanted to become a veterinarian herself, but was discouraged from this because of being a woman. Nevertheless she followed the family tradition of obtaining higher education by studying another great love, music, at David Lipscomb College in Nashville, Tennessee and Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas. At Harding she also met the love of her life, James Kern Sears, who was on the science faculty. They married in 1950, moving first to Anniston, Alabama and eventually settled in St. Louis.
Despite the hard work of marriage and raising a family Sarah was determined to continue her studies. With her husband’s full support, she obtained the B.A. with distinction and special honors in music from Jacksonville State Teachers College, Jacksonville, Alabama in 1951. She later went on to obtain a Master of Music, specializing in voice, from the St. Louis Institute of Music in 1972.
Sarah was devoted to her family and to a Christian faith that valued service and shared sacrifice. She was passionate in her defense of classical music (and classic hymns, opera, art songs, and the Great American Songbook) over modern and contemporary forms. She also followed the St. Louis Cardinals with ardor and maintained a lifelong love of animals—particularly cats and horses. In addition to being a high standards homemaker, she taught Sunday School; hosted international students and visiting missionaries; volunteered in numerous ways for Opera Theatre of St. Louis; and worked at the Webster Groves Public Library. Kern’s death in 2003 left her grief stricken, but she found some contentment the last several years of her life amongst her second family at St. Luke’s Surrey Place in Chesterfield.
Sarah was predeceased by her brothers William, John, and Robert Kerr and her sisters Mary Elizabeth Fisher and Cynthia Veitschegger. She is survived by her children Sarah Louise Sears of New York City; Elizabeth Cline Parsons and husband Lin Parsons of Portland, Maine; Anne Harding Logan and husband Chris O’Boyle of Harvard, Illinois; and Robert Kern Sears, wife Lisa Waits, and daughter Emmeline Michiko Sears of Palo Alto, California. She also leaves behind a sister-in-law, Janet Kerr Myers, as well as numerous nieces and nephews of which she was very fond.
Her children wish to thank her geriatric care manager Diane Smith—the sister we never knew we had—for her extraordinary care and guidance over the last decade. Deepest gratitude also goes to the wonderful Surrey Place staff, especially those in the Special Care Unit and the St Luke’s Hospice team.
A graveside service will take place at Oak Hill Cemetery, Kirkwood at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, 14 June.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to: The Training Center for Service, P. O. Box 220640, St. Louis, MO 63122; Opera Theatre of St. Louis; or The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.