GUTHRIE, SARA KUNKLE
1934 - 2014
Sara Kunkle Guthrie, whom we remember as 'Sally,' was born in March, 1934 in Chicago and grew up in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The first child of Wallace and Mary Kunkle Guthrie, Sally was raised in a loving family with a wide circle of friends, and as a young girl she owned and cared for a small riding horse - 'Flax' - an important part of her growing up years.
Sally attended the Northfield School for girls in Massachusetts and then received her BA in Economics from Swarthmore College in 1956. After college, Sally's first job was with the Rand Corporation in Boston and Santa Monica, California. In 1960, she and a friend spent six months on a shoe-string trip around the world. This was the beginning of her lifelong love for travel and foreign places. When she returned to the east coast she was employed by New York University in its 'English as a Second Language Institute.' Her main job was to help foreign students adjust to life in New York and select a study program that would support the needs of their home countries. This job nurtured her interest in foreign lands and people. She completed a Masters of Science program in international agricultural economics and then moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, for studies in economics and rural development. It was at a World Hunger Conference that she met Edwin Geers, who was then Executive Director of Heifer Project International.
After her marriage to Ed Geers, Sally moved to rural Alabama to work with her husband at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Their next move was to Haiti where she also teamed up with her husband on a livestock improvement program, working jointly with the Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development and the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. This work extended over a period of nine years and was interrupted by an unstable political situation and the coup of President Aristide.
In 1994, Sally was appointed as Program Manager in Battambang Province in Cambodia, supporting the United Nations Development Program efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of the country.
Two years later she joined her husband in Ukraine, where he was employed by Louisiana State University in a cooperative effort with the Agricultural University in Vinnitsa Oblast to organize an agricultural extension program for private farmers.
After returning to the United States, Ed and Sally settled in the Micanopy, Florida, area and gave many voluntary hours to local organizations. These included the United Nations Association, the Micanopy Historical Society, the Natural History Museum at UF, the Friends of the Micanopy Library, and other groups. She was a founding member of the Micanopy Tutoring Program and provided backstopping assistance for ten years for the children at risk in the Micanopy area.
After watching the struggles for democracy of the people of Haiti, Cambodia and Ukraine, and their incredible turn-outs at elections, she became an activist for the Alachua County Democratic Party working to mobilize people to participate in our democratic process. In 2002, she was honored with the Democrat of the Year award.
Sally is survived by her husband, Edwin Geers; sister, Kate Guthrie Bergen; brother-in-law, Peter Bergen; nieces Vyana, Anne and Lydia Bergen, and four grandnephews. Her final resting place will be in the Historic Micanopy Cemetery. A Celebration of her Life will be held on Thursday, September 4th at 5:00 pm at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Gainesville.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a donation be made in her honor to the Friends of the Micanopy Library in support of the afterschool tutoring program. Their address is P.O. Box 476, Micanopy, FL 32667.
Arrangements are under the care of MILAM FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES 311 South Main Street Gainesville, FL 32601 (352) 376-5361.
Milam Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc. of Gainesville
311 South Main Street Gainesville, FL 32601-1803
Published in Gainesville Sun from Aug. 27 to Aug. 28, 2014