Obituary of Sara Jane Burchell
Sara Jane “Sally” Burchell, nee Fowler, passed peacefully at home on January 2, 2022 in Newport, RI surrounded by her loving daughters, Betsy, Molly, Marty and Susie, and her devoted Havanese, Coco.
Sally liked to say she was born in a snowbank in Buffalo, NY on February 6, 1930. She attended Buffalo Seminary (class of ’47), Wellesley College (’51) and then entered Jacobs School of Medicine at the University of Buffalo, at a time when very few women were enrolled in medicine. Not only did she find her lifelong passion in medicine, she also found her life partner, R. Clay Burchell. Clay and Sally were married on July 6, 1953 and Sally then followed Clay to Chicago where she completed her medical degree at the University of Illinois.
Sally’s love of family, community and craft ran deep, especially her devoted love of Clay and her four girls, their extended families, and also their many friends and colleagues in their homes of South Glastonbury, CT and then Albuquerque, NM, where they spent most of their married lives.
In 1981, when Sally moved to Albuquerque with Clay, she helped develop and grow the Women’s Health Care service at Lovelace Medical Center. She also contributed medical support to Rio Grande Planned Parenthood and was always a fierce champion, along with Clay, for bringing more women and more women-friendly practices into medicine. Santa Fe became an especially important place for Clay and Sally after retirement, where they enjoyed art, opera and great food (but not too spicy).
Throughout her life and in her different locations, Sally built friend groups through common interests in knitting, pottery, horses, bridge, travel and gardening. Sally was often the backbone of these groups, holding them together through her warmth, good humor and inclusiveness. Sally was someone who said “yes” to life’s random invitations and opportunities, creating a rich set of memories and friendships in a life well led.
Sally was a mom, a friend, a wife and grandmother who was never without a smile. In social settings, at parties or around the dinner table, Sally often let Clay have the first word, but she rarely missed having the last word. We miss her terribly.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations
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