Video of the Slide Show from Sally's Memorial Service

Friday, April 15, 2011


SWR at Fred's daughter Sally's wedding 1979
As Fred’s children, my sister Sarah and I came to be connected to Sal at a very young age. My earliest memories of her are not very clear, but I remember her then, as I do today, as a very strong woman - smart, widely-read, interested in conversations with lots of content, and a bit scary to a small child shaken by the mystery around the disappearance of her father from her daily life.

As children and on through high school, we visited Dad and Sal twice a year - once in the winter, usually for a ski trip, and once in the summer, often for a sailing trip, or, if not that, then some vigorous work clearing brushy property in Stony Creek. Sal accepted us fully and took an interest in our lives, mostly helping us to see opportunities in the big world that we might not have found otherwise. I believe she had a clear idea of what choices she’d like to see us make, but she never imposed that on us, opting instead to try to guide rather than force. I came to appreciate her wide network of colleagues, students, neighborhood kids, birders, and others who also admired her strength of character and intellect and thrived in the lively milieu that was Little Harbor Lab in those days. I realized only years later that I also longed for, and did not find, a nurturing, warm person who could help with developing my emotional intelligence as well as those other essential skills.

As Sal aged, and came to suffer increasingly from dementia, I felt a great tenderness toward her. I wanted to hold on to a memory of her in the fullness of her entire life cycle, and also clearly remember what an amazing force she was earlier in her life. During her final few hours, we surrounded her bed, in the room in her home that she had planned as a sanctuary for aging relatives, and supported her transition from life to death. What a gift she offered us, allowing us to be there. Sal was unfailingly generous to the end; she asked only that we see beneath her sometimes stern shell and not let that fill us with self-doubt, but instead to trust in our own power.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ruth,

    My mom Thelma and I attended the Memorial Service for Sally Richards on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. I took some photos during the reception which followed and I would like to share them with your family. You may reach me via ( and I can give you a link to access them. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Greg Mouning