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Joan Sadler


1921 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Joan Sadler Obituary
Joan Wilkinson Sadler

July 1, 1921 - March 26, 2017

Joan "Susannah" Wilkinson Sadler's death at 95 leads us all to reflect on a life, her life, well lived. Her energy, vitality and creativity made a distinct impact on those people and causes that she loved. She will be greatly missed by many family and loved ones across the country.

Joan was born in Washington, DC to Catherine and Theodore Wilkinson on July 21, 1921. She attended Katherine Branson School in Ross, Ca and Madeira School in Virginia and graduated from Vassar in 1942. She was married to George Tait Hall in 1942 and served in the US Military Intelligence Division in Washington, D.C. during WW11 with a commendation from the then Brigadier General, P.E. Peabody. They moved to Grosse Pointe Michigan where they raised 3 children, Carter, Daniel and Catherine. In the Detroit area, Joan was a community activist, freelance actress, radio and TV personality.

After George's death in 1964, Joan remarried Dr. Harrison Sadler, a psychiatrist, who accepted a faculty position at U.C. San Francisco and the family moved to Marin County in 1965. Both became avid supporters of the American Conservatory Theater. Pursuing her theatrical interests, Joan proved to be an instrumental influence to the growth and development of San Francisco's ACT and an ardent supporter of young artists. She was a dynamic leader - helping to rebuild and steer the company through turbulent times to help it regain its deserved popularity and reputation for excellence. She became president of the ACT board of Trustees and received much recognition, love and honors over the years for her many significant contributions. In memory of her husband, who died in 1998 and who shared her love of the conservatory concept, she established the yearly monetary "Joan Sadler award", given to a student who represents the highest of the conservatory standards of the theatrical art. In 2010, she was elected to the ACT's "Emeritus Advisory Board"; a distinction "among the highest honors that ACT can bestow." Interested in encouraging playwriting in the region, Joan was a cofounder of the SF area "Playwrights Lab" in 1994, and the "Playbrokers" in 1998. She, herself, was an accomplished playwright, having written, among other significant works, a play on Sigmund Freud that was showcased at an annual American Psychiatric Association conference.

Together with her loving husband, Joan and Harrison enjoyed a full active life including tennis, sailing, gardening, Tai Chi and walks around the Bay Area. You could even find her tap dancing in her 90s! Mrs. Sadler was introduced to the visual arts through the O'Hanlon Center in Mill Valley later in life and found it to be pivotal for her own inner growth and deep fulfillment in life. Here again, she helped to support and guide the center through difficult changes as well. She found endless delight in the process of experimentation and surprise that ensued through works of paper collage, mixed media, poetry and photography. Taking this exploration into her daily life, she was always on the lookout, so to speak, for what is a new discovery. Her joyful invitation to all was to find new and fresh ways of "seeing" that can increase our own sense of awe and wonder with the world around us. Up to the very end, Joan combined her witty poetry with her photographic work in an online blog, "Joan's stones". Her passion, creativity, support, leadership and guidance all provided for a large network of friends and community - something she valued in her aging years, especially after the loss of her husband. The Marin Villages organization (whom she avidly supported) was instrumental in providing this sense of community for her. 'Sharing and caring" with friends and family became her priority and ultimately was what held meaning and fulfillment at the end of her life. This, she noted, brought her "heart to center stage". She died peacefully with her loving family at her side and her heart at peace. Family and friends will inherit a creative legacy from her that will continue to grow within our lives in unique and special ways.

She is survived by her daughter, Catherine (Katy/Brooke) Hall, and Carter (Terry) Wilkinson Hall as well as a stepdaughter, Susan Sadler and stepson, Chris Sadler, his wife, Lori and 2 step-grandchildren, William and Alex. There is not yet a date set for her memorial. Donations are welcome in lieu of flowers to either the American Conservatory Theater or the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts or the Marin Villages organization who had been exceptionally helpful in providing her with volunteer services that allowed her the peace of staying in her home until her passing.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 2, 2017
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