SallyAnn McElwain Smith passed away on July 13, 2021 at the age of 76.
SallyAnn was born on April 2, 1945 in Baltimore, Maryland to Elizabeth Ann (Leisher) McElwain and Guy Edward McElwain. She graduated from Big Spring High School in 1963 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary/early childhood education from Shippensburg State College.
Sally married John Smith in August of 1969. They had one daughter, Rebecca (Smith) Gugino. She is survived by her daughter, two grandchildren Leisher and LilyAnn, a son in law Leonard Gugino of Lock Haven, PA; her brothers Guy Edward “Ned” McElwain Jr. (Elizabeth) of Fort Washington, PA and Allen Andrew “Ted” McElwain (JoAnn) of Newville; a sister, Barbara Ellen (McElwain) Demango (Frank) of Marlboro, NJ; as well as cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by both of her parents and her husband.
However, those are just the technicalities, the business. What Sally was to the people who knew her and loved her is far more than can be captured by these words.
If you are reading on you probably knew Sally. Maybe it was through one of the many ways she worked with children: camp counselor, kindergarten teacher, children’s librarian, car pool driver, swim team parent, tiny tots leader, cherub choir director, Daisy leader, foster parent, story time leader, book mobile driver, library director…
Maybe you knew her through music when she sang at your wedding or a funeral. Maybe you were moved by her renditions of Oh Holy Night or The Holy City. Maybe you did musical theater with her in high school, college or the Newville Community Theater. Maybe you sang in one of the many choirs in which she was a member.
Did you know Sally through ministry and volunteering? Sally was a trained hospice volunteer, a Stephen’s Minister and had numerous roles in the church. She was a member of the Bulldog Foundation.
Maybe though, just maybe you have read on because what you knew of Sally was that she loved you. I really cannot even begin to list all of the things that Sally did but they are not what is important. It was the way she did them that made her special. You have continued on because you knew Sally, and you knew that she loved you even with all of your mess. Sally didn’t just see the grey in peoples’ lives, but the purples and reds and greens and chartreuses. She could listen and hear how people’s experiences shaped their choices. Sally touched and even changed many people’s lives by her ability to listen and love without judgement.
Four decades ago someone asked me, “Do you think your mother is too nice”? This question has lived with me always. Is there such a thing as too nice? I’m not sure. What I do know is that Sally dedicated herself to helping her community until her body said, “No more”. Sally did service up until her final days as she sang to her roommate in Haven Place. All she wanted was to feel useful and provide love and comfort to others.
There will be a service and celebration of her life on October 23rd at First United Presbyterian Church in Newville, Pennsylvania. For those who want to honor Sally’s memory, please choose to give your time or monetary donation to an organization that serves its community. Sally was usually in a library, but taking care of the community was her passion.
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