Sara Tras went to be with the Lord on Friday, April 20. She died at home, surrounded by family, following an extended period of declining health (MDS blood disorder). In life our mother showed us how to live. In death she was a model of grace and dignity, passing gently and sweetly into the loving embrace of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The last charter member of Shalimar United Methodist Church, she forged a legacy of service during her 61 years of membership founded in a generosity of love, faith and giving. Our mom was a well-known face in the choir where she sang alto every Sunday until her health forced an unwanted retirement. She hosted Bible study groups in her home for more than 20 years, counseled and mentored as a Stephen's minister, Hope minister, and Emmaus volunteer, and participated in innumerable church projects and programs during her many active years. The church building fund (Branch Out) was her special current interest, as she believed strongly in the faithfulness of Shalimar UMC and its God-ordained mandate to positively impact lives. She was always striving for "better." Mom participated in church and community outreaches, mission trips, and faith pilgrimages. She gave generously of her time, as we remember how for over 20 years she transported cancer patients from Ft Walton to Pensacola for chemo and radiation treatments, before our area had such resources of its own. Mom was seldom "down" – always encouraging friends and family, children and grandchildren, always exemplifying great faith and hope, and always giving praise to her precious Holy Spirit, the source of her constant joy, in all things.
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The Town of Shalimar, founded in the mid-1940s by Clifford Meigs, has been indelibly influenced by this beautiful "first lady". Divorced from Jean Freiwald, Sara married Clifford Meigs, Shalimar's founder and developer. During the mid and late 50s, she worked alongside her husband to develop the young community. Widowed in 1960, several years later she married James Tras, who also became active in the Town of Shalimar and served as Mayor. Upon the completion of his service, Sara began a mayoral term of her own, serving her town as she did her church, with her whole heart and with a passion to see Shalimar grow and prosper.
Our mother was a pillar in her church and an icon in the community of Shalimar. She will also be remembered by many as a gracious, talented businesswoman, a "purveyor of antiques", as she co-owned and managed in a decades-long partnership with beloved friends Carolyn Crotzer and (deceased) friend Geneva Putnam, the enjoyable boutique they affectionately named "Antiques and Uniques". But she will be remembered most for the sincerity of her love and the integrity of her character. She personifies well the strength and beauty of the Proverbs woman, where in Chapter 31 we read "A woman of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies … She is clothed with strength and dignity … She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue … Her children arise and call her blessed." We do, Mom, we called you blessed.
Sara Angela Ferdon was born in Florala, Ala. and grew up in Crestview, Fla., the oldest child of Mr. Mayo and Mrs. Otis Ferdon. She inherited her mother's musical talent, and at 3 years old, she made her singing debut on Crestview radio, singing "Tip Toe Thru The Tulips." At 13 years old, she joined the choir of the First Methodist Church in Crestview, and began a lifetime of choir service.
She is survived by her brother, Dr. Charles P. Ferdon (and wife Blanche), who was her confidant and adviser and best friend for their whole lives; she is survived by five adoring children who thank God for the great privilege of calling her mother: Angela Eanes (and husband Scott), Candis Carrillo (and husband Craig), Edward Tras, Clifford Meigs, and Polly Yoakum (and husband Nathan); she is survived by 8 adoring grandchildren who will forever remember the holidays and birthdays and occasions she made special because of the joy she brought to celebrating life and family together: Laura Eanes Odell (and husband Matt), David Eanes (and wife Shelby), Sara and Angela Carrillo, Mikella Albertson and Candace Tras, Talor and Cliff Meigs; she is survived by 7 great grandchildren who will grow up knowing what an influence their grandmother is in their lives, because we will not fail to tell them of her great stature and contributions: Elijah, Katelyn, Hosanna and Isaac Odell, Natalie and Kyndal Meigs
Mom poured more into all of our lives – friends and coworkers as well as family members – than love and affection. She had such hope for each of us, such trust in the plan God had for every one of us. She truly saw every person as unique and wonderfully made and strived at all times and in all ways to bring out the best of everyone, to identify each individual's special gifts and talents and to breathe life into them, to inspire them. She was an encourager, a light in the darkness, a safe harbor for a weary traveler, a refuge, a mother to the motherless, a friend to the friendless, an outstretched arm to the needy, a shoulder to the broken-hearted, a hand up to the downtrodden, a way out for the lost. She was not perfect, but she was a woman of great virtue and God-driven enthusiasm, giving generously of her love, time, talents and resources, selflessly and wholeheartedly, always giving praise to her Lord for the relationships and opportunities He gave.
To say we will miss her is an understatement. This beautiful matriarch will forever be enshrined in the many hearts that were touched and often transformed because she lived. A church and a community will be forever indebted to a founder who gave a lifetime of service to simply making her world a better place … day by day, year after year, one trusting and persevering step after another.
There is a favorite Scripture passage that Mom embraced and which we, her family believe reflects well the way she chose to run her life race. In Philippians 4 Paul writes about pressing toward the goal. He acknowledges with no excuses his human imperfections and weaknesses and continues with: "But, this one thing I do … Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Mom consistently forgot what was behind. She consistently pressed on. She set the example. She forged a firm path. Her petite form left large footprints.
You have won the prize, dear Sara. You have lived well. You have endeared and inspired many. You have earned your rest. Dear sister, sister-in-law, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, friend, and co-laborer, we say goodbye with many tears but no regrets, and with the certainty that when our own races are completed we will, indeed meet again.
A celebration of life, worship and service will be held on Friday morning at the Shalimar United Methodist Church, commencing at 10:00a. The sanctuary will be open early for those who wish to pay final respects. A reception will follow in the church's Family Life Center. There will be a time of Visitation at the Emerald Coast Funeral Home on Racetrack Rd, Thursday evening from 6:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m. Following the funeral service the body will be cremated, as she requested. She requires it no longer; she has taken off the old and put on the new.
In lieu of flowers, and in evidence of the love and confidence she has in her church, Sara requests that contributions be made to the building fund, called "Branch Out", of the Shalimar United Methodist Church. It is her final desire that the work the church began in 1951 will continue in decades to come, to the glory and honor of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The address and phone number of the church is P.O. Box 795 (street address 1 Old Ferry Road) Shalimar, Fla. 32579, phone 850-651-0721. If not to the church we encourage you to make a donation to the
The family wishes to express special gratitude to Emerald Coast Cancer Clinic for all their efforts and support; to Emerald Coast Hospice for all their support and encouragement; to Ft Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital for wonderful care and medical expertise; to Dr. Blankenship, her family doctor; and to the many anonymous blood donors whose priceless gifts of blood added comfort and quality to our mother's life during these past 11 months.
Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com.
Published in Northwest Florida Daily News on April 23, 2012