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Sara Mae Slayton

March 16, 2020 | 23 comments

Sara M. Slayton, teacher, writer, artist, storyteller, and most loving friend to all who know her, died on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Family and friends were with her at that time, and we greatly appreciate the expressed love she inspired and deserved.

Please feel welcome to share thoughts and express feelings about this most  thoughtful, witty, kind and loving, caring and generous, beautiful person who leaves us with a wonderful example of a positive life well-lived. We love her and miss her. My best friend and wife, Sara Mae.



  1. Terry Visger

    Sara was the sister my parents never gave me. We spent so much time together talking, laughing, sharing, and sometimes crying; we knew each other so well. Sara was the nicest, kindest person I have ever known. With the festival or the Boomers, if we had to tell someone something unpleasant, Sara always did it and they accepted what she said with a smile. Few could do that. She touched so many lives–preschoolers and college students she taught, storytelling audiences, people from all walks of life who took her storytelling classes, and the many people she met though all the things she was involved with. She had a group of ‘old men’ who she met at the Country Kitchen while having coffee. They met weekly and all kept in touch even when the restaurant closed. That is just how she was. She made friends with everyone because she everyone was her friend. We are all so blessed to have known her. I love you, Sara….always will.

    • Linda Hoverson

      Sara was my sister and I adored her. My dad called her “the Mighty Mite” and she certainly lived up to that. She was a natural born storyteller in the most wonderful ways possible. I always loved reminiscing with her. I was hypnotized by the way she could make stories and memories come alive with sights, sounds, scents even textures. I will be forever grateful that I got to share much of my story with hers.

  2. Suzie Garfield

    Loved Sara through our bond of storytelling and send most heartfelt condolences at your loss.

  3. Stephen Brokaw

    Sara was someone who could keep you in stitches while making your brain work over time trying to keep up. She was fast in thought, funny in demeanor, and could slyly slip into a story before you knew what was happening. Her heart was solid gold, and her warmth genuine. Her smile encompassed all in her view, and will long be remembered. I will always feel blessed for having known her. We have lost someone special, but she will forever be remembered.

  4. Mike Speller

    I had quite a few occasions to work with, chat with, and joke with Sara over the years. The most recent was participating in a story workshop where she shared activities for pre-schoolers. She encouraged laughter, love, and respect…for us and the little ones. When I think of her, I’ll always remember those three qualities.


    My heart is with everyone who lost this lovely person from their lives. She was a wonderful role model when I first joined UWL.

  6. Virginia Hirsch

    I knew Sara through the Northlands Storytelling Network as a fine storyteller and a very friendly person. My condolences to her husband, family and friends for her loss. Storytellers like Sara make the art of storytelling come alive for listeners in schools, libraries, nursing homes, and festivals or wherever folks gather to be entertained or learn age-old wisdom.

  7. Toni Asher

    I first met Sara as one of the “Three Boomer Broads” and what joy she brought into my life! The stories she told, phrases she used, her gestures – all just stuck in my brain on the way to my heart. Over the years I learned Sara was witty and smart, kind and graceful.

    Sara is one of the bravest people I have ever know.

    She is sadly missed but always will be remembered.

  8. Debra Morningstar

    All I can remember about Sara is her contagious smile, kind eyes and beautiful, big heart! Oh, and yes–her storytelling was FABULOUS! I am so very sorry for your loss. I send my deepest condolences to you! The sun will shine again…

    Travel well, Sister…

    In Spirit, Debra

  9. Vicki Brokaw

    Sara. I can’t say her name without smiling. She brought sunshine everywhere she went. I’m so grateful for the love she shared. I like to imagine that she is somewhere shouting “yee-haw” as the Oleo gang rides together again. Thank you Gordon, for bringing such a beautiful person into our lives.

  10. Deon Hughey

    Not a storyteller, myself, I have enjoyed dozens of stories at La Crosse Storytelling Festival and at meetings for the Festival. Few have stuck with me – most of them were Sara’s. The first caused me to ban my dogs from the house, leave the shower curtain pulled back, and to question why anyone let her tell Not Only Dogs Lick BEFORE intermission at Tales of the Creepy and Scary. The second caused restless nights and makes me hold tightly to my kids while keeping an excessive distance from our frozen ponds during family walks in the Winter. The third caused me to cut apples in half the horizontal way this morning to remind my kids how every apple has a star inside. Sara was a great storyteller and a great person – the only one I’ve known to get angry yet be able to flash a big, genuine smile because “this, too, shall pass.” Be free and fly, Sara. You more than earned your wings.

  11. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Sara was a wonderful teacher, storyteller and mentor. The sparkle in her eye, her kindness and gentle support of others was always front and center. We are all lucky to have known her and shared travels along life’s roads with her. We join you in mourning her loss and celebrating her profound influence on so many lives.

  12. Maria Higgins

    The first time I met Sara, she felt like an old friend. I felt totally accepted and loved. She was authentic, courageous, smart, funny and kind.
    Her stories are forever etched in my heart.
    I am so sorry for your great loss.

  13. Jan & Kent Koppelman

    Our hearts are aching as we have just learned this news. Wishing peace to her and her family and her galaxy of friends.

  14. Ya Sayaovang

    Sara was my favorite college instructor (beside her hilarious husband Paul) because she genuinely believed in me . She was a true advocate for children and made a huge impact in the education field. I feel so fortunate to have known her. I hope she knows how much she is loved and how much she has impacted my life. Sara, I will miss you dearly. My sincere condolences to her family during this difficult time.

  15. Patricia McCarron

    “That which we do for ourselves dies with us, that which do for others remains.” Sara, so much good remains with us, thanks to knowing you. You lived your life to the fullest, and taught and inspired so many others to do the same. I’m so glad for the many fun times we spent together, and thank you so much for every one of those times. So many places and things I wouldn’t have seen or done if not for you. Thanks, and love, and peace to you, my friend and extra sister.

  16. Lori Portner

    Although I only knew Sara for a few years, I feel deeply the void that she has left. She came into my life when I needed her the most. She was a very special person who was kind, selfless and nonjudgmental. Always a smile – never a harsh word. Thank you, Sara, for blessing this world.

  17. Mike H.

    In every one of the few short times I have spent with her, Sara was always smart, positive, energetic; a role model even to an old man like me. And yet, I know her best for her effect on my brother, and I know her effect will be with us always. Thank you, lovely Sara.

  18. Karen Acker

    I had the good fortune to have Sara as a teacher for a course on integrating the arts in the elementary classroom at UWL. She was a model of creativity, positiveness, acceptance, humor, and a million more admirable traits. Her influence and kindness will be long remembered by many friends, students, colleagues, audience members, and more. Gone from this old Earth, but never forgotten. Rest in Peace, dear Sara. But if you want to keep sending stories to us, do that too.

  19. Joan Yeatman

    Such a wonderful person; I will remember her–and think of you, Paul–with love and respect.

  20. John Moyer

    A beautiful soul has left us and we are all poorer for the loss.
    My condolences to all who knew Sara.

  21. Mary E

    I had Sara as an Early Childhood Ed instructor at UWL. She had such a wonderful, respectful manner and was one of the best instructors I had. When I was doubting my choice of major and career, her class showed me how wonderful it could be, and that I was on the right track. My condolences to her family and friends and all who were touched by her.

  22. Beth Satory

    Sara often introduced me as her oldest friend. Yes, this is Beth Droessler Satory. We met in the early 70’s and became best friends instantly. I always said we grew up together. I admired so many of her qualities, like the stamina to play sheepshead all day and night, and the skill to win at foosball until bar time, and her kind intelligent wit that enabled us to meet and instantly befriend anyone and everyone. I loved her adventurous spirit that led to countless rides through beautiful country sides never knowing where the ride would end all the while laughing incessantly. Thank you, Sara, for blessing me with your friendship. It will live with me forever.

    I also admired her many talents that she worked hard to develop and hone so she could give them as gifts to so many, like her beautiful, scary, funny stories, her hand-made gorgeous Christmas cards, her writing and thespian skills, and especially her knowledge and respect of young children and development. Your gifts will be appreciated forever, Sara, as the children you so loved and taught others to love and respect and help become strong independent adults, will help their children do the same.

    Perhaps a best gift she generously gave me was her friends. I would come to La Crosse to visit and she and Gordon, aka Paul, would whisk me away to some exotic theater or standup comedy or music gig that had me in stitches or tears for the entire night, then she would introduce me to all the performers and they would become my friends, because she asked them to…

    To all those friends and her family and Gordon, you have my very deepest sympathy for your loss. For she was the best friend and listener anyone could ever ask for. We shall not forget her. She will be in our stories, our songs, and hearts forever.

    Beth Satory


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