April 28, 1969 - December 19, 2020
Sarah "Sally" Elizabeth Johnson, 51 Sarah Elizabeth Johnson died in hospice care on Saturday, December 19, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with family and friends holding vigil. Sarah died of health complications from anorexia, an illness she battled for nearly three decades. Though she faced mounting physical pain and limited mobility later in life, Sarah devoted her days to service and understood that sewing small acts of kindness could make the world a more healing place. Sarah often showered the people she loved with gifts, whether a Bible verse for a friend in need, a beaded necklace for a niece, or chocolates for staff at Shadyside Presbyterian. When asked, in her final days, for a guiding principle, she paraphrased Ephesians and replied, sotto voce-"Be humble; be gentle; be patient with each other." On April 28, 1969, Sarah was born at Salem Community Hospital in Salem, Ohio to parents Tom and Betsy Johnson. The fun-loving middle child of three Johnson siblings, she grew up fond of riding horses in Beaver Creek State Park, skiing at Peek'n-Peak, waterskiing on Berlin Reservoir and riding roller coasters at Cedar Point. To visit the Canfield Fair every Labor Day proved a beloved Johnson family ritual. At the fair, Sarah recalled spinning ceaselessly on the Tilt-a-Whirl, sandwiched by brothers Daniel and Mark, as the midway lights twinkled and blurred. She also enjoyed attending the Salem Presbyterian Church, which seeded a strong Christian faith that would sustain her life-long. A 1987 graduate of Salem High School, Sarah attended Bowling Green State University. She majored in English Literature and Sociology and studied abroad at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. While studying at Bowling Green, she volunteered for a literacy project and recalls teaching a 70-year-old man to read, so he could study the Bible. She often cited this as one of her proudest accomplishments. Sarah also loved to recount traveling through Europe with a close friend after completing her study abroad semester in England. A highlight included pony trekking through the Black Mountains of Wales. Following hours of trail riding, the two friends dined with fellow travelers at a long, communal table, where they drank local wine and enjoyed rustic Welsh fare. After a stint in Washington D.C., where Sarah studied at the Legislative Studies Institute, she then moved to Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. There, she found success working for Recycled Paper Greetings as a marketing consultant. Clients from across the country took a liking to Sarah for her affable, easy-going manner and keen ability to earn their trust. "Sarah was constantly a bright rainbow of hope regardless of what she went through. She could turn on her charm and people would want to be near her," recalls colleague and friend Gus Richter. In 2007, Sarah moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh to be closer to her aging parents, Tom and Betsy. Sarah settled in the Shadyside neighborhood, where she attended Shadyside Presbyterian Church. A devoted parishioner, she regularly volunteered at Bethlehem Haven, a homeless women's shelter, and the East End Cooperative Ministry, where she packed groceries for families in need. Sarah performed this community service, despite suffering debilitating pain from her medical ailments. "Sarah was a light to our church, and to everyone in our community with whom she came in contact. She was kind and gracious to everyone, no matter who they were, or how long she knew them," shared Reverend Lynn Portz from Shadyside Presbyterian. With her hallmark kindness, Sarah frequently visited her parents in Salem, Ohio and spent long hours by her mother's side at Crandall Medical Center. Even as her own health faltered, Sarah lovingly embraced her role as an aunt to five nieces and nephews and relished attending their concerts and performances and celebrating Christmas together. With gifts and fanfare, Sarah welcomed the arrival of each new niece and nephew. At these cherished family gatherings, Sarah's brothers often joked, whenever they saw each other sporting a stylish article of clothing-"It must be a gift from Sally." In Sarah's final days, her brothers Mark and Daniel held vigil at her bedside in Pittsburgh, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. They spent more than a week with her, recounting family trips, providing tastes of her favorite foods, taking her on virtual walks around her neighborhood, watching the "Sound of Music" together, and recording her loving, generous wishes for her legacy. Close friends and members of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church sat with Sarah, as well. As Sarah reflected on her decades-long struggle with anorexia despite receiving treatment at several of the leading eating disorder facilities in the country, she commented, "This terrible disease has taken its toll on me and has taken several of my friends. They didn't figure out how to fix us, but I hope that a cure is found soon." While visiting together, Sarah's brothers encountered this line by Rumi penned in one of her notebooks, "Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation." Sarah is preceded in death by her father Dr. Thomas Brock Johnson and her mother Elizabeth Anne Young. She is survived by her brothers, Mark residing in Santa Monica, California and Daniel living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also survived by five nieces and nephews: Shayda and Kian, children of Drs. Mark Johnson and Parrish Sadeghi; Olanna, Luka, and Nulia, children of Daniel Johnson and Dr. Ebele Okpokwasili-Johnson. A virtual Celebration of Life Service inspired by Sarah's wishes will be held in early 2021. For those who are interested in attending, please sign up online at the following link : https://tinyurl.com/y9zdq3pq Friends and family may view this obituary and send condolences to www.dalessandroltd.com . The family kindly requests that contributions to honor Sarah be held until the service, where organizations dear to her will be recognized.
Sarah "Sally" Elizabeth Johnson, 51 Sarah Elizabeth Johnson died in hospice care on Saturday, December 19, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with family and friends holding vigil. Sarah died of health complications from anorexia, an illness... View Obituary & Service Information
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