Sara Cunningham Scott

Sara Cunningham Scott

Sara was a visual artist and writer, so much so that she wrote the first part of this obit! She was born in 1946 at “the old” Saint Nicholas Hospital to Carita Clara Norma (Rabe) Cunningham & Bryan Morris Cunningham.

Sara lived a multifaceted life. When she was 14 years old, “everything seemed to happen”: She broke her left wrist on an ice rink, broke both thumbs in gym, and made a rocket that blew up and ripped her right side open (the school rocket club wasn’t open to girls at the time when sex discrimination was legal).

She worked as a veterinary assistant the summer of her high school junior year for free at the Bogenschultz & Tielke Vet Clinic on Sheboygan’s northside. At the end of that summer they gave her a check for $35, took her out to dinner, and welcomed her back for a full-time job anytime she was ready. After high school she dated a young man named Richard, aka “Butters,” a local bartender. Sara also played with the Pool Tavern softball team and drove by convoy in 1966 to the Burlington North Carolina National Softball Tournament where she and her team competed. That’s when she learned how competitive Southern ball was because they could play all winter long and Sheboyganites had a long winter break! After the ball tournament she quit working at the vet and started working for Leverz Shoe Company on 8th Street where she did inking and edge setting, and then transferred to hand sewing where she made penny loafers, only she put dimes in hers. In between those two jobs she drove taxi for Richardson Yellow Cab, only the second woman in Sheboygan to get that job and had to have an interview with the Chief of Police in order to do so.

In 1972 Sara took her Mother Carita to the Mayo Clinic for cancer treatment. In the course of Carita’s chemotherapy treatment which continued in Sheboygan, while accompanying Carita, Sara met a woman who was talking about her nephew. It turned out that Sara would later meet this nephew, William (Bill) Otto Scott (deceased), and he would become her husband in 1977. Sara and Bill were both 1907 Club members and taught Alateen there for three years and worked with families and friends of alcoholics and other drug abusers. They also took a counseling course together at UW-West Bend and took time off from the course in order to get married: the professor announced in front of the class, “This is a new one for me, I’ve never had to excuse students to get married to one another before!” The simple ceremony took place at Saint Dominick’s and Sara wore a beautiful powder blue pantsuit: she never wanted to get married in a dress! The couple enjoyed playing in leagues in pool, softball, and bowling: they supported one another’s participation in sports.

In 1979, Sara fulfilled her dream of becoming a Mom when she gave birth to her only child, Jacqueline or Jacqui for short. All Sara cared about at the time was that her child be healthy, and a redhead, and she got both. (She was always partial to redheads.) In the early 1980s she joined forces with Mary Lynne Donohue to fight for social justice through the creation of the group Sheboygan County Citizens Organized for Rights and Equality (or SCCORE) which she ran for a handful of years.

In 1991, her Mother Carita died unexpectedly and then her estranged husband Bill surprised her with divorce papers. Sara then began working as a clerk for Product Development Corporation in Milwaukee, a phone book delivery company. She spent her free time fishing, supporting her daughter’s many extracurricular activities, writing poetry and short stories, spending time with many friends, and vacationing at her favorite spot: Scott Lake near Cumberland, WI. In the late 1990s Sara returned to driving taxi at Sheboygan Taxi Company until she became disabled in 2000.

Throughout her life, Sara connected deeply with others, and especially enjoyed children and animals, or “critters,” as she called them. She was a dear friend to many, a wonderful listener who was steadfast in her loyalty. She laughed often and easily and loved telling jokes. It was rare to find Sara without a twinkle in her beautiful brown eyes.

After several health challenges in the early and mid-2010s, Sara came to reside at Rocky Knoll Nursing Home in Plymouth, WI. Sara loved living there and felt she was treated with respect and dignity, qualities she endeavored to embody in all her interactions. At Rocky Knoll she began designing and making stunning, intricate paper flowers which were even commissioned for two weddings. She also discovered a love of bingo and played it as often as she could, sitting with her friends Betty and Doris.

In late April 2019, Sara’s chronic leg wounds became too complex to be treated in Sheboygan so Sara moved to Madison to receive treatment at UW Hospital and to be near her daughters Jacqui and Dawn (Jacqui’s spouse whom she referred to as her daughter). The treatment was extensive and truly all that could be done to save Sara’s life was done. In early June, Sara moved to Belmont Nursing & Rehab Center in Madison with Agrace Hospice Care and then her condition worsened to require inpatient hospice care at Agrace in Fitchburg in early July. Eight days after moving to Agrace, Sara passed away as peacefully as one would hope while Jacqui sang “You Are My Sunshine” to her, which Sara would sing to soothe Jacqui when she was little.

Sara’s life brought so much joy and she will be dearly missed by her family, her many dear friends, and those who cared for her. A private Celebration of Life will be held. Donations in Sara’s honor would be welcomed to these organizations: Planned Parenthood; Lymphedema & Education Research Network; and the Poor People’s Campaign.