At the time of her death, Sarah Virginia Bell was the Chaplain of the Watkinsville Garden Club. She
was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to the late Charles Woodrow Bell and Sarah Molene Holmes Bell. Sarah graduated North Fulton High School in 1973. She earned degrees in English from Furman University (1977) and the University of Georgia, completing her Ph.D. in 1989 with a dissertation on William Faulkner.
No one will ever forget Sarah's great sense of humor, integrity, intelligence and wit, her dedication to teaching and civic life, her passion for music and literature, and deep devotion to her Christian faith. Every day of her life, Sarah transformed the energy of her clear convictions and love for God into making the world a better place, always with great warmth and heart.
Students from the University of North Georgia, the Prince Avenue Christian School, and homeschool groups recall Sarah as a rigorous English teacher who insisted on critical thinking, good grammar, and close reading of literature. But she was also "patient, kind and never dull - she even made Beowulf enjoyable!" one recalls. A dedicated student of the Bible, Sarah taught and inspired Sunday School classes for many years.
As founder-owner of Doctors of English, Sarah edited resumés and manuscripts for hundreds of individuals, small businesses and schools. Her editing skill was sought by magazines such as Southern Farm & Garden.
Sarah's friends and neighbors will always remember her random acts of kindness--helping a sick friend, driving an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, or donating blood to the Red Cross. She also practiced organized acts of kindness. For 25 years, Sarah owned and operated We Care Animal Haven, a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter, and helped other animal rescue agencies connect lost pets with their owners.
A long-time resident of Watkinsville, Sarah enriched the life of Oconee County with her gifts of time and leadership. She served as President of the Oconee County Historical Society, chair of the Oconee County Republican Party, and citizen representative on committees for future land use planning and park restoration. Sarah inherited a love for plants from her father, and was an active member of the Watkinsville Garden Club. Oconee Observations blogger Lee Becker remembers Sarah as a dedicated citizen activist who engaged wholeheartedly with civic and political life, but "above all," he says, "she was caring."
Sarah's love for music always involved service. She grew up singing in Atlanta's First Baptist Church choir and North Fulton High School's national touring choir. She sang and played the piano for worship in numerous churches, and was a member of the 250-voice Jubalheirs.
Sarah's musical legacy is perhaps most rich and indelible in the life of the Furman Singers, Furman University's nationally recognized collegiate choir. Sarah's leadership and love for Singers began her freshman year, and bears fruit today in the vibrant Furman Singers Alumni Association, of which she was a founding member, and in the successful campaign for an endowed faculty chair for music, which she helped spearhead. Retired Singers director and Emeritus Professor Bingham Vick declares Sarah "a true Singers icon. Her love for Furman Singers was without limit, her leadership and influence without peer." Singers on tour in 1976 will never forget that moment in the middle of Salzburg, Austria when Sarah suddenly twirled like Julie Andrews and burst into "the hills are alive!"