Sally M. MacAuslan, 89

Sally MacAuslan

Sally MacAuslan

CAPE ELIZABETH — Sally Mirick MacAuslan died peacefully on Sunday, July 13, 2014. She was 89 years old and had lived life joyfully, and with tremendous grace and dignity.

Sally was a lifelong learner who inspired others to learn and to find joy in their world. Her passion for knowledge and the arts, and her curiosity for the adventures of family and friends, never ebbed.

Born on September 23, 1924, in Worcester, Mass., Sally was the daughter of George H. and Ruth (Goodnow) Mirick. The family spent summers on their farm in Princeton, where Sally developed a love and curiosity for nature and the world around her. This led her to study Geology and Geography at Mount Holyoke College, where she finished her Bachelor’s degree in three years. After college, Sally performed geological fieldwork in the Rocky Mountains and was employed by Harvard University for the American Geological Society.

Sally also passionately pursued her interest in music. At 15, she was encouraged by her aunt to take singing lessons, and she went on to study piano and voice privately, and then more formally at Mount Holyoke and the New England Conservatory of Music. She studied under some of the most renowned musicians of the day. She had a glorious voice and was a frequent soloist. However, Sally was by nature a modest and gracious person. She was much more interested in hearing about others' adventures than on dwelling on her own good fortune or considerable talents.

Sally met her husband, Dr. Robert C. MacAuslan in 1947. Together they had five children whom they raised in Raymond and then Naples. Sally’s family was the primary source of joy in her life and they, in turn, were devoted to her. She quietly supported each of them, and many others; her tolerance and willingness to listen and to understand were legendary. She was admired by so many, frequently welcoming the extended families of her children into her home and her life. She did so with great generosity and an unconditional and giving spirit.

Sally was the Director of the Public Library in Bridgton for many years. She dedicated herself to her work there and showed keen and insightful leadership in improving the building and its services. At the time, the revitalized building was described by a board member as “a monument to Sally MacAuslan, whose spirit, dedication and leadership made it a reality.” Sally also worked at Northern Cumberland Memorial (now Bridgton) Hospital as Medical Librarian. In both of these positions she displayed keen skill, modesty, and a generosity of spirit. She had enormous energy and continued to work part-time at the hospital until the age of 80, when the onset of Parkinson’s disease finally slowed her down.

Sally lived a rich life, full of music, education, and interesting people. She was a tireless leader who served her family and the community through civic and volunteer work. When her children were young, she was Coordinator of the Kennebec Girl Scout Council, and volunteered at the Naples Public Library and with American Field Service (the International Student Exchange Program). She was later a founding member and ongoing board member of the Deertrees (Theatre) Foundation, which restored the theater and allowed the building to return as a regional focal point for the performing arts. Sally performed in opera at Deertrees and then enjoyed an array of performing arts in the restored building, later in life. She was also a core member of the group that protected and preserved the McLaughlin Garden in South Paris. A one-time president of the Lakes Region Chamber Music Association, Sally also performed with the Maine Opera Guild and with the Maine Choral Arts Society. She loved the years she spent as a member of the Raymond Village Church and Bridgton Congregational Church Choirs.

Beyond her leadership, volunteerism and support of the arts, it was her determination and independence, along with an iron will to carry on in the face of adversity, that made her remarkable. In her final years, she rose every day with grace and dignity, going about a set of daily chores that might include gardening, knitting a scarf for someone in need, or doing countless strength and balance exercises to keep the worst of her disease at bay. She worked hard, with a sense of joy and without complaint. “Life is too short,” she said, “you have to live it to the fullest, make every day count.” In 2013, as a resident of Village Crossing Assisted Living in Cape Elizabeth, she was presented with the “Remember ME” Lifetime Achievement Award by the Maine Healthcare Association, in recognition of her civic leadership.

Sally leaves her son, Joel Mirick MacAuslan and daughter-in-law Rita of Nashua, N.H.; daughter Persis Strong and son-in-law William Turner of Naples, Fla.; daughter Margaret (Meg) MacAuslan and son-in-law Richard Kujawa of South Burlington, Vt.; daughter Martha (Molly) MacAuslan and son-in-law Varney Hintlian of Cape Elizabeth, and son Ian James MacAuslan, of Irvine, Calif. She also leaves a grandson, and seven granddaughters. Sally is also survived by her sister Susannah Mirick Swihart of Casco, and was predeceased by her husband Dr. Robert C. MacAuslan, and her brothers Richard W. Mirick and Albert H. Mirick.

The family would especially like to acknowledge the kindness and compassion of Sally’s caregivers who were so helpful over the last several months.

A celebration of Sally's life is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2014, at 2 p.m., at the Spurwink Church in Cape Elizabeth. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Maine Parkinson’s Society or to the Deertrees Foundation in Harrison.

Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Sally’s guestbook and to leave condolences for the family.

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