Sarah Kelley-Hay

Obituary of Sarah Elizabeth Kelley-Hay

Sarah was born on November 8, 1947 in Omaha Nebraska. Her parents Ken Freese a musician, worked in the Nebraska public school system. Her mother, Carol Glidewell Freese was a homemaker and master seamstress, and teacher aid in later years. Sarah was the oldest of four children. Her siblings, Kent born 1950, Steve born 1953, and the late Janette born 1957 rounded out the family. They moved around southeast Nebraska a little as her Father was a music teacher and school administrator. They finally settled in Lincoln, Nebraska where the family built a home base. 

Sarah attended Lincoln public schools. She graduated from high school in 1966. She enjoyed telling stories from her high school days about playing in the orchestra, spending time with friends at local hangouts, and going to football and basketball games as a member of the pep club. (She still has her pep club sweater from that!)

After high school she went on to Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln studying Biology. After a little while in that, Sarah realized that this just wasn’t her calling, and transferred to the school across town, the University of Nebraska Lincoln majoring in Elementary Education. She’d always loved children and felt drawn to teaching. She finally graduated with her education degree in the early 70’s and became a teacher’s aid, working in several classrooms before getting a class of her own.

During this time, in 1976 Sarah fulfilled a long time desire to travel and took a trip to Germany with a close friend Janis. She stopped in a few other European cites as well, But Germany was her favorite. Her family recalls her saying that she emptied her bank account to pay for it, but that it was worth being broke when she got back! She loved the cities and scenery and had a chance to practice speaking German with local residents.

In October 1977 Sarah married Steve Hay, a native of Nebraska. He has worked as cartographer for the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). They settled in Lincoln where Sarah kept busy with her job as an elementary school teacher, being active in church, and going to sporting events with Steve.

While she loved her teaching career, she had another big goal in life: to be a mother. In April of 1982 daughter Laura was born in Lincoln and son Michael followed in August of 1986 (in Fort Worth Texas. But we’ll get to that in a minute.) Motherhood prompted her to put her teaching on hold while she stayed home to raise her kids. She always said that being a Mom was her favorite job.

Steve, Sarah, and infant Laura re-located to Fort Worth in the summer of 1982 for Steve’s job. That 630 mile trip south in a car, with a three month old baby in the middle of summer was rough! They were not ready for the scorching Texas temperatures! But they settled (and eventually adjusted to the heat). Sarah switched gears and became a homemaker.

 Sarah returned to music with a local community orchestra who played numerous concerts every year in Fort Worth. Her family has MANY memories of attending concerts throughout the years! One highlight was playing some of her favorite classical pieces solo with her father Ken assisting.

In 1993 she returned to college at the local school, Texas Christian University and was admitted to their music program and played with the student orchestra as well. Her courses were encouraging and invigorating for her! One notable memory was playing in the orchestra for a University production of Fiddler on the Roof. Unfortunately, life got in the way and she never finished the degree, but was glad she’d tried.

Adding to her a heavy load, she made several visits to son Michael’s first grade class to teach them a few music basics. Michael and his classmates loved it so much that they gifted Sarah with a special plaque thanking her for her lessons. Sarah was always loved teaching people that classical music wasn’t stuffy old music, but is used in so many more ways than people knew. She showed them that it’s used in cartoon shows, documentaries, movies, etc.

In the summer of 2000, after Laura’s high school graduation she and Laura began a small arts and crafts business called Sapphire Station. Sarah provided the crafts, Laura the art and they split all other duties between them. Sarah LOVED working the business! It was a fantastic outlet for her non musical creative talents, and taught her a great deal about the daily specifics of running a small business.

Just four years later, the Fort Worth NRCS office restructured and Steve was selected to work at the NRCS office in Greensboro, North Carolina. This meant that they and Michael, who was in his final year of high school would move. Sarah was elated to go to North Carolina and try living in a new place. She and Laura elected to uproot the business and re-start in Greensboro, so the entire family of four re-located.

Life went on as usual until a hemorrhagic stroke struck in 2011 and permanently changed her life. Sarah miraculously survived the stroke with minimal brain damage, but it later turned out to be the catalyst for a constant barrage of health problems and hospital stays for what would turn out to be the final years of her life. She fought two more smaller strokes, a second brain surgery, heart and gall bladder problems, and her epilepsy on top of it all. She was told multiple times by the medical professionals who worked with her that she was lucky to have survived everything she’d been through.

The health issues slowly stripped Sarah of her vitality and she spent her final three years as a patient of in home hospice care.  She succumbed to the after effects of the health problems in the early afternoon of Thursday November 2. She passed peacefully at her home while sleeping.  

Sarah is survived by her Husband Steve, two children Laura and Michael all in North Carolina, her brothers Kent in Oregon, Steve in Nebraska, her three nieces Adria, Kim, and Lisa and their children, all in north Texas.  She was preceded in death by her parents and Sister.

Funeral services with public viewing will be at the Pierce-Jefferson Lambeth Chapel on Thursday, November 9th at 1:30PM.  Interment will follow at Lakeview Memorial Park.

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Funeral Service

1:30 pm
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Pierce-Jefferson Lambeth Chapel
300 W. Wendover Avenue
Greensboro, North Carolina, United States


3:00 pm
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Lakeview Memorial Park
3600 N. Ohenry Blvd.
Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
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