Today, on the eve of Christmas Eve, family and friends will gather in Dublin, Ga., to celebrate the long and remarkable life of Sarah Austin Frost, who died at home on Thursday night at age 97. She was a special person — beloved by many.
I was honored to know Sarah as a supporter of Nurturing Faith who quickly became a personal friend.
Visiting Sarah over the years was always a treat — especially when taking an unsuspecting friend along. I didn’t tell them everything to expect.
Generally, they knew we were going to see an elderly, retired math teacher who faithfully supported our publishing ministry with her monthly gifts and notes of encouragement. Such was true.
Upon meeting Sarah, however, they discovered a feisty and friendly former Marine who could talk Braves baseball with me as well as anyone — and was not afraid to share an opinion about any other matter as well. In other words, she was fun.
Often the visits would begin with lunch at nearby Red Lobster and then move to her home. Sarah would stand before the many photos on her refrigerator and unravel updates about family and friends — much like standing before a chalkboard teaching young minds how to work a math problem.
(Honestly, I’ve always preferred stories to math.)
Though in her 90s, Sarah complained less about aches and pains than how she wished the local cable company carried all of the ESPN channels.
She showed us the treadmill where she got her daily workout — while watching the Braves or another sporting event when baseball was out of season.
I never attended a Braves game without knowing that Sarah was at home trying to spot me. “Were you at the game last night and wearing a blue shirt?” she might ask.
We’d talk about the University of Georgia, attended by her daughter Betsy and my daughters Meredith and Abigail. And, of course, we talked about preachers, politics and whatever else was in the news each day.
Sarah treated me and our small staff like family — keeping in touch by phone, notes, cards and visits.
Keithen Tucker, our former development director who now serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Eatonton, Ga., was the first to get to know Sarah and to introduce the rest of us. Jannie Lister, our customer service manager, would include visits with Sarah when she was heading east to Dublin from Macon.
Simply put, Sarah was a part of our lives and ministry that we will deeply miss. We celebrate her long and meaningful life — that touched countless students and many others including us.
We pray for comfort, hope and peace for daughter Betsy and son Billy and all of Sarah’s family who mourn the loss of this remarkable woman.
An article we published about Sarah in 2010 is framed and hangs on the wall of my office where I see it each day. Her handwritten notes of affirmation are all in a file where I can read them again.
Sarah grew up on a family farm in Monroe, N.C., during the Great Depression. She made her way through college in Greensboro by working in the dining hall.
Upon graduation, she taught school and coached girls basketball under World War II broke out. She enlisted in the newly formed Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, serving in various posts across the nation from 1943-1945.
Sarah always aimed high. So she took advantage of the G.I. Bill to attend graduate school at Columbia University and explore New York City in the post-war years.
Returning to her home state, she taught high school math courses in Winston-Salem and won a Ford Foundation Fellowship that allowed her to explore “the use of mathematics in government, business and education” — an expertise she shared with students and colleagues throughout her teaching career.
When her husband, Bill Frost, took a job in Georgia in 1964, Sarah took her excellence in teaching to Dublin High School where she said, “I looked forward to every Monday…”
For many of us, we looked forward to every change to visit with Sarah in person or by phone, and to receive her notes of encouragement and support. And we look forward to seeing her again.
God bless, Sarah Frost and the many who loved her.